The Rise Of The Instagrammer


Remember some time last year when the wider world suddenly realised bloggers were a thing?

That there were actual people out there writing about their lives, their favourite beauty products, their daily outfits and more, and actually getting paid for it.

I remember how self-centered everyone assumed bloggers were – how a lot of people still assume bloggers are. I remember how self-centered I assumed bloggers were.

Whilst working in fashion magazines a few years back, we started to take note of the blogging industry and work – just a little bit – with UK style bloggers. There was always this idea that people blogged simply for freebies, that people were self-obsessed, as though they were forcing their hundreds of thousands of readers to come back and visit their blogs every single damn day.

And yeah, we ignored the fact they were clearly doing something very right to have a loyal following the way they did.

Looking back it was definitely a lack of knowledge on the subject and a readiness to accept the general opinion of these people we didn’t know. Of these girls who were actually challenging the traditional media system and the way we digested content as consumers. I guess maybe it was a fear of the unknown, that there were these girl-next-door types who were in many ways, doing better, fresher, versions of what we were doing and it was really working for them, better than it was working for us.

It takes a lot to be a successful blogger. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of time and a lot of patience. I never understood that before I became one.

I never understood how easy it is to start a blog and have no-one read it, and how difficult it is to slide through the crowds and be one of the bloggers who makes it.

It’s like the 21st century version of being an actress. The thing a new generation will grow up wanting to be, the thing parents will gently try to steer them away from, the thing very few people can actually make a living from.

This year it feels like everything’s been about YouTube. And a lot of the big guns in the lifestyle sector are now common household names to people outside the media industry. But, and here’s the thing I find most interesting, the majority of them started off as bloggers first.

And slowly, over time, they’ve drifted away from their written platforms and jumped, feet-first into the world of video. YouTube is now their passion, the way they make their income, and the thing they dedicate their lives too – and, in turn, their blogs have been as good as abandoned.

There’s no denying the lure of YouTube and video editing – humans are visual beings over anything else, after all – and, it’s hard to ignore the fact that YouTube pays really bloody well.

People pay more for video, brands bloody love video, and I know that I love to be part of a video campaign because it not only challenges me, but instantly means I’ll be paid more for my hard work.

But now there’s a new contender on the block, a new platform that a lot of bloggers are ditching their WordPress and Blogger sites for. Ok, that’s a bold lie. It’s not new. It’s old. But new in the business sense.

And that my dear internet pals, is good ol’ Instagram.

Everyone’s favourite place to shoot bird’s-eye views of their breakfasts and coffee and feet and outfits. Everyone’s favourite place to visit if they fancy feeling just a little bit shitter about their bodies and wardrobes and mundane lives.

Because whereas it’s cool and on trend to be relatable and ‘real’ on Twitter and YouTube and on blogs, it really, really ain’t on Instagram. Nuh uh.

I stumble upon UK bloggers every single damn day on Instagram who have six figure followings and I’ve never even heard of them. Like, what?

The bloggerspshere is vast and there’s no way that after only being part of it for a year I could know of every single fellow digital content creator from team GB, but you know when you’re like, but really? Where have you been hiding? How do I not know you? Why aren’t you part of any blogger cliques? Why haven’t you cropped up tagged in someone else’s Insta pic or tweet? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

And the more and more that I find these secret British bloggers with huge Instagram followings, the more I realise that actually, they’re not professional bloggers at all, they’re professional Instagrammers.

Girls, women, beautiful mermaid people, who maybe started a blog first and then continued that branding onto Instagram and then watched as their Instagram following grew, and slowly, over time, their daily passion and energy went into creating the perfect images and grid and aspirational illusion of what their life looks like – of what their followers lives could look like – rather than creating blog posts.

These girls are utilising a whole new platform to create their income – to create incomes I could only dream of, and it’s both insane and amazing, innit?

I know people (or, know of, or whatever) who charge a casual and cool £1k an Instagram upload. Not bad, right?

And then, on top of that, you’ve got the affiliate income generated from – a fashion blogger wet dream.

Instagram’s downfall has always been the fact it doesn’t allow clickable links in bios, which has stopped bloggers and Instagrammers being able to monetise their accounts with links to their things they’re wearing and products they’re promoting.

But it’s hard to miss the promotion scattered across every fashion account – a website that allows people to sign up to their fave accounts and receive emails with clickable links to everything shoppable in every upload that they like from those people.

The clickable links in those emails of course being affiliated which means bloggers/Instagrammers/anyone who uses Insta, can earn commission on the sales they generate.

And legit, it works.

There are gals out there, barely out of their teens, earning 4, if not 5, figure salaries a month just from these Instagram commissions. IN-FRICKING-SANE.

So yeah, that.

And because Instagram has become such a lucrative industry, these Instagram-famous faces have started to abandon their blogs because CBA when your photo uploading account is generating enough income (and enough interest from brands for big campaigns and beach holidays) to pay for your rent and weekly Zara hauls. Am’I’right?

It’s official, I can no longer keep up with the fast pace of being an internet celebrity. Because that’s what it is now, not just one group of people known as ‘bloggers’. But various pockets of people who own a domain name but focus in on one area – be it videos on YouTube, perfectly edited snapshots of a life on Instagram, or, y’know features on a blog.

And I don’t doubt that by next year there’ll be a new online platform to become a success at – a new thing to ace and generate an income from, a new destination that means people stop you whilst you’re shopping at H&M and go ‘I recognise you from the internet’. Erm, OK.

So, my advice if you want to succeed in this weird old online world? Find what you’re good at, find what you’re passionate about – videos, photos, words and hone in on it. But, as I’m trying my damn hardest to do, dip your feet into everything, secure yourself a neat little platform and following wherever you can, because it’s almost like a safety net.

And the one thing I’ve learnt? Being a success in any corner of the internet is bloody hard work, you can’t just be the best over night. It’s entirely about getting your name, your blog, your account seen by more and more names – by getting mentions on other domains or accounts, by getting tagged in things, by appearing in other people’s videos or photos. It’s as much about being good as it is about collaborating and getting publicity.

Oh internet, you weirdo.

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