When I hear influencers (I hate the word) talk about the « good ol’ days » of blogging or Youtube, I often find myself nodding along. It felt different back then. Friendlier, more honest. It wasn’t about numbers, it was about finally having a creative outlet.
I discovered Youtube back in 2013. I had graduated from high school in June 2012, and I had a very hard time overall. Didn’t love my studies, felt very alone and like I didn’t belong. I remember looking for a tutorial on how to use something (maybe? can’t remember exactly) on Youtube and bam! I was hooked. An entire platform of possibilities opened up and that’s when I started following some of the OGs: Zoe Sugg, The Anna Edit (who was named Viviannadoesmakeup back them, oh! the memories…), Lily Pebbles, Estée Lalonde (Essie Button!), I Covet Thee, In the frow, Kathleen Lights, Samantha Maria, Nicole Guerriero, Fleur de force, Tanya Burr, Tess Christine…
It was the time of simpler edits, it felt more raw, more real. But at the same time, there was this real feeling of opportunities. That it could really become something more. So when everything started picking up I felt so happy to see content creators I looked up to do so well and get a career out of their passion.
The funny thing is, even at the time they were talking about products, clothes, items. But for some reason, it didn’t bother me. I was on this path of self-discovery of the beauty world, of finding a style I liked, of growing into an adult who wanted a cute interior. And also, it felt different. Different to what it can feel now. With now Instagram being a huge platform for promotion, it has developed into an industry. The « influencers » industry. And I’m not sure about how I feel about it sometimes. Being bombarded daily by promotion for products and clothes, I question the industry at times.
Do we need all this stuff? Isn’t it bad for the environment, our bank account and our mind to constantly be wanting to buy new things? Why is it always about buying, buying, buying?
But on the flip side, I like treating myself to a new shirt. I like having my apartment being decorated, I enjoy experimenting with makeup. So I like to consume, too?
And that’s where the fine line resides for me. Hear me out.
From the moment I created my blog, I loved it. There it was, my self place where I could be creative, talk about things I love, write about topics close to my heart or about figuring myself out. Even when anxiety was a crippling beast, consuming my everyday and inviting panic attacks to join the party, I always thought of my blog, even when I wasn’t strong enough to create and post. It was my happy creative place.
Early on, I wanted to create a Youtube channel. However, the same beast made it more difficult, along with body image issues and other factors, to create my channel. I know that it was mostly me being my own show-stopper. I could have created it earlier. And sometimes I think that maybe it could be bigger than it can ever be now, being so new in an ocean of mature channels. But I know it was meant to happen when it did because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t sure who I was and so how could I create content that represented me? I like clothes, makeup and decor but I also want to promote other important things like thrift shopping, buying clean beauty products, talking about money and organization and overall how to be happy in your own skin.
And that’s why I know that though sometimes it annoys me that it took me so long to create my blog and then my Youtube channel, I also know that this way of thinking didn’t magically appear. It’s years of self-introspection, of discovering what I like, who I am, what I want to stand for. Taking my time to develop my thought process, to discover who I am as a person helped me understand where that fine line stands for me.
In order to feel comfortable taking part and consuming content from « influencers » and « micro-influencers » I’m now being more picky. What makes a difference to me is who is the influencer – or content creator as I prefer to call them. It’s no coincidence that I follow a more « old times » content creators than new ones on Youtube. They still have the same passion for what they do and come from a place of wanting to help you improve your life or just entertain you.
The newer ones I subscribe to have to follow the same path, and trust me I’m very picky. When it comes to blogs, same rule applies. Instagram is a different beast and that’s where personality gets even more points for me. I want to follow people because of who they are, their style, yes, but also for their wit, honesty, relatability or inspirational aspect. It’s important for me to get an idea of who the person is. I need to be able to trust that it’s not just another ad placement but an ad placement that comes from an honest place.
This trust is important to me because there is a big difference between wanting to make your audience buy stuff for brand deals, good stats and money and actually loving to create looks, or images that inspire people to be comfortable in who they are, thanks to their style and inspire others to be the best version of themselves.
And that’s the only way I want to be influenced.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or through DM on Instagram!