Tom Sheard - Social Media Influencer. Instagram

“It’s easy being a Social Influencer”, ” I could do that”, “Anybody can just take a picture and upload it to instagram”, “Influencers are just freeloaders!”.

Ok, so some of that it true. Yes, you could do it yourself and yes anybody can take a photo and upload it to Instagram. The thing is, that isn’t the point, and it’s not why i’m writing this either. Time and time again I am hearing the same things from people who just don’t understand what it takes to create worthwhile content and the commitment that is needed to become a successful influencer. This isn’t really a how to guide, but it’s something I’d like to discuss honestly delving into some of what goes on behind the camera.

“The high life of an influencer”. To the people that don’t understand (usually the ones we are targeting within our content) it can look like an easy fabulous lifestyle, however, it’s truly hard work. This is by far a moan, I just want to shed some light on to the process behind that one photo you see on my Instagram feed.

So most of us do this on the side. I for one am not lucky enough to be doing this full time. I work long hours, so really only have a 1 hour lunch and weekends to create any content. Content can take hours as there are all sorts of factors that need to be taken into account when creating. Imagine having to rush home on a 1 hour lunch to create some perfect content for a brand that is prepared to pay you £300 or more! It’s high pressure so finding the time is one thing I personally find the most difficult. I’m speaking about the time it takes to create content here, not everything else that goes with it after it’s live… but I’ll get on to that later.

Tom Sheard - Social Media Influencer. Instagram

I think everybody has their own version of creativity and that helps when you are to create content for a brand. However, it’s just not that easy. Brands can be easy to work with or completely the opposite giving you small time frames or a tone of voice that gives you zero free originality and creative freedom. Regardless of how the brand is dealing with you, you’ve just got to think at the end of the day it’s a job and you’ll be paid for the work you create… If, it’s good enough!

In short your content needs to be fresh, original and eye-catching enough to stop people scrolling and look at what you’re putting out. For that, you need a decent camera (you can do this on Iphone but the quality is not always the best). I use a Canon DSLR as I find this type of camera extremely user friendly and I don’t know much about cameras. Another huge factor is location. Again, I am not lucky enough to be travelling all over the world like others, so I make do with what I can. In fact some of my best work has been created right here in my home. Obviously though this location soon ‘dries up’ in terms of new places to shoot and don’t be naive to think your audience won’t think the same. If you can get out and about, even just into the city and find a decent spot (without lots of people) you’re on to a winner… Easier said than done mind you.

Tom Sheard - Social Media Influencer. Instagram

Moving on to the editing, a process that again is insanely time consuming. Working on each photo individually, rubbing out any parts you don’t need, gray scaling, cropping – whatever it is you want to do nowadays there’s an app for it! Personally my favorite app on the iphone is called ‘Snapseed’. I do anything for ease and this app is perfect for professional editing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing this, I enjoy creating content but the point I am alluding to is it can be a long drawn out process. Especially if it might be a blog post or a series of photos for one brand. Everything has to match and it has to make sense. Confuse your audience or don’t tell the story within your content or captions, well you might just lose the job! – It’s happened to me in the past and it can be quite a cut-throat industry. You can work hours on something you love, for a brand to turn around, flip you two fingers and say “Thank you, next”. That £300 you were relying on… Gone.

You’re hours in and you’ve finished your content. It’s edited, it’s stunning… Now it’s time to post, swiftly moving on to my next point…When to post. Believe it or not there are good and bad times to post your content on Instagram. The best times to post you have to work out yourself sing your personal statistics. For me, a Friday night at around 5-6pm… why? Because that’s when most of my following is active on instagram. Logic tells you people are on the way home from work, or have already finished. So commuters for example on public transport are sat scrolling, people are settling in on the sofa, scrolling, you’re damn right people are on the toilet… scrolling. So this is the best time to post? or so you’d think. This isnt always the case and this can change week after week so you always have to be on your toes checking statistics and working out the optimum time to post. Instagram tends to change is algorithm monthly too, meaning you have a constant battle of trying to get your content seen. Ever noticed your favourite influencers on instagram that you see daily suddenly disappear and you find them at the very back of the queue. Well that’s Instagram changing up their algorithms. Instagram Stories and live feeds (if you can handle your own voice on camera) are now becoming hugely popular. In reality, Instagram is changing so we have to change the way we work too.

Something else that is ever-changing is hashtags. I always use the maximum amount Instagram allows you on each post (30) however I like to write them in a caption where you can’t see them. It just gives a better aesthetic look to my content but be assured, all 30 hashtags are there. In simple hashtags are there to tag your photo to a specific category. For example, if I have been shooting content for a clothing brand I can use #mensfashion or #mensstyle to tag my photo in that category, this means that if someone was to search “Mensfashion” up pops my photo… me and the 100’s of millions of others. Point in case… hashtags are only relevant if you make them so. With over 1 billion monthly instagram users, you can imagine it’s pretty easy to get lost in the noise. So make your hashtags as original and relevant to your content as humanly possible. Not too obscure however otherwise nobody will even know what to search to find you. Still following? let’s move on to the next point.

Tom Sheard - Social Media Influencer. Instagram

Then we get to engagement. So you’ve done all of the above… but what you need is likes and comments, otherwise in reality your content becomes worthless. Commenting and liking other like-minded or similar types of profiles can get your photo noticed. Think of it as “You rub my back, I’ll rub yours” kind of thing. You can comment and like, to get the same in return. Its ridiculously time consuming and can take hours after you’ve posted to do so. In the same breath however its a great way to meet people and make long-lasting friendships on Instagram with people who have the same interests.

My final point is the money. Yes, it’s true. The money is good. However, it takes a full 30-60 spins of the earth to reach you. You can create and edit the content, it becomes approved , you post, you hashtag, you comment, you like, you rock yourself to sleep. The next step is invoicing… yes we have to do it too. Invoice sent… payment pending 60 days. The biggest nightmare of all.

Tom Sheard - Social Media Influencer. Instagram

So to sum up, in reality, I enjoy what I do. But juggling this full time, trying to live a healthy lifestyle, walk a dog and be the best me I can is not an easy job. I’m lucky that I can do this type of work, but actually i’ve worked very hard to do it. So, the next time you hear anybody say “It’s easy taking a photo and uploading to Instagram” just remember the process behind it. It’s not as if a global brand is going to accept a holiday snap of me and a Mojito for their new advertisement campaign! (If only).

Tom Sheard - Social Media Influencer. Instagram

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