The End of Influencing

This has been on my mind for a while, but I worry it’ll seem like I’m yucking someone else’s yum. So, before I begin, just know that this is about my personal journey and no one else’s.

I am done with social media influencing.

I wanted to have a YouTube channel from the moment I learned what it was. What a fascinating concept — anyone could broadcast themselves to the world and potentially reach millions of people! But I didn’t know what I wanted to say, and didn’t know how to get started. In 2016, two big things happened to me; I became a mom, and I started a business for moms called The Sensible Mama (now LYMIA BRAND). I felt like I finally had a purpose, something that people would actually want to hear me talk about. So, scared as I was, I got started. I used my YouTube channel to provide helpful content to moms like me. The channel covered a huge spectrum of topics from how to pack a diaper bag, to carrying a baby in a ring sling, to the impact of motherhood on mental health. It felt so good to provide something of value to other moms, while growing a business at the same time.

As social media grew into what it is today, having a presence on social media became less about broadcasting and more about influencing.

Every day, my inbox is slammed with inquiries from brands who want to use my social media presence (and credibility) to promote their products. These offers used to give me a thrill. How privileged was I that brands I know and love want to pay ME to promote their stuff?! Initially, I took brand deals here and there to see what it was like. And to be fully transparent, it was a really cool feeling to get paid to do something like that! But it also felt very hollow.

In 2020, when adults like me poured onto TikTok as a way to keep ourselves entertained during the pandemic, many of us quickly grew massive platforms. It was such a fun time. Unlike YouTube where there was so much work that went into producing a video, on TikTok you could film, edit, and upload a video in minutes. We were all just trying to have fun back then, and maybe lift each other’s spirits, too. But of course, as brands took notice of the power of TikTok, the app quickly shifted from being all about fun and authenticity, to being the home of cleverly disguised ads. When TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram rolled out their own creator funds, which allowed creators to make money from their own content without working with brands, we saw content stop being about people’s hearts and interests and start being about going viral. Everyone was hopping on trends, or trying to be controversial, sensational, or absurd to get their content pushed to larger crowds and make more money. For a time, we all got sucked into the opportunity. But now, three years later, some of us are still leaning into the life of influencing, while others of us are deciding we’ve had enough.

Listen, I am all for people — especially women and moms — using unconventional revenue streams to provide for their families. The beauty of social media influencing is that it gives you the opportunity to work from home and be in complete control of the work you do. I’ve known several influencers who were so successful at it that they began doing it full time, and eventually even their husbands retired to help them with their social media business. What a dream! So, I’m not knocking the people who have made influencing work for them.

It’s just not for me anymore.

For years, I have missed out on being present in special moments because I was thinking about the best angle to get an #Instaworthy photo. I’ve intruded on my kids’ lives by sticking my phone in their face to get a quick Instagram story. How would the world survive if they didn’t know that we’re making PlayDoh monsters right now?!

I’ve exhausted myself with planning content, rethinking content, filming things over and over until I get them the way I want them. Sleepless nights were spent editing videos for YouTube, only to have them tank because that app only pushes out a certain kind of content these days. I’ve made myself physically sick worrying over the hateful and cruel comments that internet strangers lob at me every day just for existing. And for what? Some money? For fans? For getting recognized?

Influencing is a mindset, and it’s one I’m checking out of.

I love making content. I am never going to stop because it brings me joy. But folks who have been following me online for a while may have noticed that a lot has changed in the way I engage with social media. I don’t pressure myself to post on Instagram Stories all the time. In fact, many days I don’t post there at all. I don’t really go Live anymore, although I will get back to that in my own small community eventually. I don’t post on YouTube unless I feel like I have something significant to say — something that matters to me and that, I think, could help someone else. And when I’m too busy, too exhausted, too overwhelmed to make videos, I don’t. You can create content without being in the influencer mindset. The influencer mindset is focused on consistency, virility, and what makes money. It’s about getting your 4 TikToks a day, your 8 Instagram posts (making sure you use a nice variety of pictures, Reels, and carousels), your 20 or more Stories a day. My mindset is different now. It’s about sharing things that matter to me; caring less about whether it matters to other people.

When I’m being authentic and sharing my true heart, the people who need to hear what I have to say always find me. It’s a smaller crowd, but it’s the right crowd.

I write here on my blog because writing brings me peace. I am done engaging daily with social media platforms that steal my peace rather than add to it. Does that mean I will not post to my other social media pages at all? Of course not. It just means that I am going to make social media work for me, for my peace and my mental health, instead of me working for social media.

For the first time in years, I’m free.

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