|Influencers and bloggers would often capture a photo of their food prior to eating and post on social media|
How I started
I started blogging in February of 2010 simply because I missed the “glory of by-line” (I was a contributor writer for a lifestyle and fashion print magazine for almost a decade) and I also used blogging as my venue to express my thoughts. During that time, I had no stable job but I had to work and accept small writing gigs because I was raising my nephew Kyle who was a toddler then. I liked blogging because I can write any topic I want under the sun without having to please an editor. To be perfectly honest about it, I got into blogging without any idea what it was all about. I guess I was just too bored at that time and wanted something which I can use as a form of self-expression.
Thus, I started my blog as a “mommy blog” even if I am not yet a biological mom. It was through my blog that I would write all my journey and adventures as a “single mom” while I make ends meet to raise my beloved nephew. I was glad to have found support from a community of fellow moms online and eventually I got to meet some of them during events offline. I also started receiving event invitations for exclusive mommy events—and I didn’t mind because I treated Kyle as my real son even if I’m only just his aunt. After all, I took care of him, taught him his ABCs and 123s, and sent him to school—practically anything a mother will do for her child—except for breastfeeding and giving birth. I also received product samples of diapers, milk products, vitamins, toys to review among many others—all the perks and freebies of a typical mom blogger. In my mind, I couldn’t believe people are actually giving me free stuff? All I need to do was to promote them and write about them. So, this is what blogging and being an online influencer was all about!
My blog has evolved over the years
Eventually, my mommy blog has to evolve as Kyle hit his teen years. I remember he talked to me one day and said I should stop blogging about him because he’s been teased by his classmates at school especially after I tagged him on our photos with his sister after seeing Barbie Live. So I figured it was time I convert my blog into a lifestyle blog. After all, I love to eat out, I like cooking, traveling, and just about anything lifestyle-related.
But when I started blogging, I really didn’t have any idea about being an influencer. I was just enjoying all the perks of being a blogger. If you ask me, what is the difference between a blogger and an influencer? Most people tend to think they are the same but they are not. A blogger is anyone who owns a blog site where he or she writes original content and publishes them on his website. An influencer is one who uses social media platforms and has his or her own number of followers who engage in his/her posts. An influencer has an impact on his follower’s buying decisions. Not all bloggers are influencers and vice versa. But you can be both.
Every Influencer’s Responsibility
I like to believe I owe it to my readers and followers to be completely honest with my posts or reviews. I don’t want to lose their trust and my credibility as a blogger and influencer. So if a certain product isn’t good enough for my liking, I try to focus on its positive aspect. Say, for example, I didn’t like any of the food I was served at a particular restaurant, I would say that the food tasted pretty normal, nothing spectacular but would focus more on their superb service, efficient staff, or cozy ambiance. By doing so, I need not fool my readers and followers but I do not also need to rant anything about the food either. When I recommend a product, I really mean them. So even if it’s not a paid post or I’m not compensated with it, if I enjoyed the food or I liked the product, I write about it, I help promote it.
You can’t really gauge an influencer with their number of followers
I may not exactly have a massive number of followers on my
social media accounts, but I know I am an influencer because I get to influence
my readers and followers to buy or at least try whatever it is that I promote
and put on my posts, regardless if it’s a paid (article) one or something
that I personally bought or tried and enjoyed it so much that I decided to
share with my followers. That’s when I realized that influencers and bloggers
truly have a great impact on how customers would make a purchase.
The highs and lows of being an influencer
As a food blogger and critic, I get free food almost all the time. When I visit a restaurant or share my readers my latest food discoveries in a certain area, each time I post a photo, aside from people liking my posts, I would often get inquiries right away. My followers would begin asking where did I get that food, how was the taste, how much is it—things like that. It may not be exactly an instant ROI from the company that has tapped me for the campaign (if it’s a paid post), but people had been getting curious. So when I say it’s worth their money or a particular food is delicious, customers would come and visit the place and order the same thing I had. My photos would often make them drool and crave food the minute I upload them. There were followers of mine who would send me a private message thanking me for recommending this particular restaurant or food etc. Sometimes, they’d also message me to ask what restaurant can I recommend if they are craving a particular cuisine. It’s flattering and I’m also glad to be of help to entrepreneurs especially those that are just starting out. I like doing my part to help promote them and their businesses. Food blogging isn’t for everyone too. It has its pros but it also has its cons.
Pros and Cons
I once attended a food review where I couldn’t eat properly because I was suffering from hyperacidity. I was taking antacids but for some reason, it didn’t seem to work fast. I had no choice but to eat in small portions just so I had an idea how the food served tastes like. I also went to a restaurant review where I was made to eat fries a couple of times: a burger with fries, chicken with fries, sandwich with fries, pasta with fries, ice cream with fries…I must’ve sworn eating fries for like a whole month after that incident.
There were also times when we had to attend food crawls where you need to eat different variety of foods in 18 to 20 restaurants (Yes, and I’m talking about various cuisines here) and you need to hop from one restaurant to another on a single day. If you think that’s an easy job to do, I kid you not, it is difficult. Imagine you had to review each restaurant and your distinctive palate can go numb. So how do you differentiate their taste when you can no longer feel your taste buds? Easy. I learned over the years that you have to manage them through short breaks and periods. But then again, like I said, food blogging isn’t for everyone. I must’ve acquired my diabetes and high blood pressure because of too much eating so I try to avoid food review invitations these days.
|Cosmetic products are being tested by bloggers and influencers|
The same thing goes for beauty products. I’m not exactly vain but part of my job as an ambassador for a Korean Beauty Community brand was to share with my followers and readers the first dibs on Korean skincare and cosmetics. I would be sent products for me to use and I’d have to share my thoughts on my blog and on my social media as well. I knew I also had to be careful when using cosmetics and skincare products since I have sensitive skin. I make sure they are free from parabens, sodium laureate sulfate, and other harmful ingredients which can harm sensitive skin. I also like dermatologically approved products that aren’t tested on animals.
If I happen to receive extra products, I like sharing them with my readers by means of conducting giveaways and raffles online. Mechanics are made easy, they just need to subscribe to my blog, and follow me on my social media accounts.
I enjoy engaging with my readers. If I’d be lucky, I’d get to see them in person and be able to talk to them. They’re like my friends because my loyal readers seemed to know me so well as I tend to be very open when I write.
Brands I accommodate
There are a number of brands that rely on influencers and bloggers to promote them. I am open to partnering with brands for as long as I believe in the product and when I know my followers and readers may be able to benefit from the said information I’d be sharing it with them. If a certain product is something I’m not comfortable with or if it’s not something I believe in, that’s the only time I turn it down. I welcome brands that I had been using or something my family had trusted for years.
My Advice to those interested to start a blog and become an influencer
You have to find out your niche. It doesn’t really have to be a niche but it has to be something that you’re really passionate about, something that you’re really into. There are lots of blogs out there, meaning there are lots of competition. Finding your niche means focusing on a hyper-specific topic and becoming the go-to expert on that topic. For example, you are very kikay (someone vain) and fashionable, go for a makeup tutorial or cosmetic product review. If you’re a wanderlust, go for a travel blog. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, go for a business blog. Once your blog has gained some traction, you can branch out and cover broader topics. Write about topics that people are searching for. Create content that will be worth reading. Write as often as possible. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. Just focus on building a habit of putting an entry each time. It need not be a blog post—it could just be a Facebook update, a tweet, blog comment or something else. To write well, you have to practice frequently. Lastly, I think you should always have a heart in everything that you do. Some bloggers have become too self-entitled once they reached the peak of their popularity. There’s a lot of aspiring blogger/influencers who has the beauty, ability, and knowledge but only a few has the heart, humility and real passion into it (blogging). So my advice is to be one of those FEW.