Welcome to my Influencer series!
I count myself lucky to be both an Influencer and to work with them. The view I get looking over both sides of the fence has helped me see the Influencer Marketing industry a little more holistically (*wanky marketing speak alert*) and that makes both of my ‘lives’ easier. Having compassion and understanding for the person I’m working with from both sides of a business situation has helped me dispel assumptions, confusion and issues before they arise.
Rather than keep all my (shiny) thoughts to myself, I thought I’d talk about what I’ve learned from working on both sides to help you whether you’re an aspiring Influencer, Blogger or brand. I’m going to be talking about the main points to keep in the back of your mind whether you’re just starting out or if you’re an established Influencer. Before I launch straight into it all (and leaving you wondering who the hell I am to be throwing advice around left, right and centre) here’s a little about Miss Shiny Thoughts. Sitting comfortably?
How I got into my career
University was in North London and my degree was Fashion Design, Styling and Promotion (don’t ask). The course didn’t really teach me any of those things but it DID give me lots of time to work out who I was creatively and what writing online could be.
Alongside the demanding projects, deadlines and the odd trade show trip to Paris to translate for my tutor, I was being introduced to London’s budding blogging community. I met my bestie Carrie of WishWishWish whilst making a giant map of London on our classroom wall and we clicked right away. Carrie and I became best buds, housemates and work pals. She helped me morph my creative, craft-commentary blog into the self-style and lifestyle site it is today. We were in the centre, watching the meaning and rules of blogging develop and individuals grow to become important marketing tools for brands.
For our Final Major Project, Carrie and I made and launched a lifestyle magazine called Wish featuring Influencers from all around the UK and abroad and somehow sold 1000 copies to girls all around the world. We knew how powerful at connecting people the Influencer world could be.
Freelancing (aka winging-it)
Once I graduated, I didn’t know what the hell to do with myself but with a few blog sponsorships starting to flow into my inbox and a couple of months left on my London rent, I figured I may as well give ‘freelancing’ a go. Turns out, it was BLOODY HARD.
My biggest lesson was when I got a gig with a start-up jewellery brand. It sounded brilliant on paper and in a Shoreditch House meeting but in reality, I didn’t have the foggiest what I was doing. And I paid for it. After all, there’s only so much winging-it you can do. One of my main jobs was creating the set for a trade show. I sourced and built props and furniture, mocked up realisations on Photoshop and found out that VAT was a thing. I made mistakes that made it feel like the world was caving in. I had to cancel a holiday last-minute because I hadn’t been told prior to the job that I had to set the thing up. There were white-knuckle bus rides to B&Q, sweaty sprints to the post office praying I hadn’t missed the last post and invoices worth a pittance that I thought was a fortune (everyone under-sells themselves when they start out, right)? I was so confused, so overworked and so unremunerated. I learned so much but my mind didn’t care for that, it was too busy being stressed.
After a few months set-building for photoshoots and press days plus some fantastic stints visual merchandising at Liberty, I realised I really needed to get some experience behind me within the safety of a company before attempting to sell myself as a freelancer. I fixed up my CV and dove into applications.
I was lucky enough to bag a job right away on ASOS’s Lookbook-style site, ASOS Fashion Finder, a community platform I’d been uploading my Blogger looks to for a few months. I managed to pip 14 others in my interview to the post. How? There may have been a streak of skill in there but mainly because my new Manager had known me as a Blogger before I’d even applied. After spending 2 years sorting the best Blogger uploads into various trend round-ups, I knew who was who and of those, who were ones to watch. Hello – a then relatively unknown – Megan Ellaby!
Deciding to stick with ASOS following some restructuring, I moved to the Social Team where I managed the community platform #AccessAllASOS. My role was mainly to manage projects briefed in to me by the rest of the Marketing team then finding the best Influencers on our roster to take part in them. I would then ensure all of the promised outcomes were delivered. I juggled organising shoots and events with 3rd party brands, planning #AsSeenOnMe campaigns and sending girls off on trips around the world. I was basically acting as a consultant; repping the Influencers by saying what the wider business could and couldn’t expect of them and what they wanted from us.
All whilst maintaining ShinyThoughts, of course.
That last role ASOS was mad. Equally exhilarating as well as exhausting. In 8 months I grew up very fast but got crushed back down fast too. I loved some of the projects I worked on but, like many of us have or will experience our jobs someday, there were ways of doing things and personalities that weren’t for me. As the year came to an end, increasing anxiety got the better of me to a point where I didn’t recognise myself any more. Being unable to eat, bursting into tears before I even got to my desk and becoming paranoid that everyone thought I was unprofessional and going mad were not my normal traits at all. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s absolutely not ok to feel the way I did and I wish now that I’d done something about it sooner.
Boden to the rescue!
In the middle of the mess came a shining light; an out of the gloom job offer! I accepted, hooray!
I’m now a Social Media Content Producer at Boden Clothing in a similar position (albeit far less intense and on a much smaller scale – phew). I source and commission Influencers for projects as well as organise content for the social channels (I told my pal Ella all about my day to day for her blog). In one week I might organise and go on two shoots for our blog, create an Instagram story, work with our designers to make assets for us to use on social or co-host an event. It’s such a joy to have a supportive and collaborative team and the freedom to create projects and develop myself at work. I certainly don’t take that for granted.
Blogging and working full time
In my downtime I squeeze in working on ShinyThoughts but as my career progresses, I want to share what I’ve learned with you as well as the usual swanning around town posing posts. After 4 years being a real adult and 7.5 years of blogging, there are a few things I’ve come to realise. (Read my post on what I’ve learned from blogging here).
If you’re just starting out in Influencer marketing or you’re someone thinking of starting a blog or Instagram / have been doing this for years, I hope I’ll be able to teach you even something teeny.
Look out for my next posts in this series and if you like what you read or want to know more, gimme a thumbs up on Twitter or in a comment below. I’d love to know your thoughts.
What I Wore to Work:
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