#MoveMakerMonday with Tara C.
I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by a dear friend and boss lady, Tara C. for her #MoveMakerMonday blog feature. I have linked it for you so you can see the premise of our discussion as I summarized my experiences as an influencer. I wanted to expand a little more here so more details are covered and my core beliefs and raw experiences are heard. I think you will find this very interesting as it touches upon my instant exposure from being seen by millions of people around the world after my two explorations with abc’s The Bachelor season 22 and Bachelor in Paradise season 5.
1. When did you know you wanted to make a difference and a career with social media?
My interest in social media stemmed for my passion for photography starting as a young girl. I love documenting my experiencing and sharing my journey with the hopes of inspiring others. I’m also naturally a witty person and grew up with the idea that I would end up in marketing as a copywriter. Fast forward a few years and social media took over the thirst to land a 9-5 job and created an opportunity to become self employed with the drive to have control over content and furthermore the life you wish to share with an audience.
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Social media has the power to show us things we would otherwise never see in our life. Social media can help inspire others. Social media can also motivate us with health, fitness, travel, friendships and so much more. However, I am not denying that it can also have negative effects. Now more than ever I am passionate about sharing things that make someone feel positive. Or so I hope. This is the difference I hope to make with social media. We are constantly looking at unrealistic images of the “perfect body” or “prefect family” or “perfect life”. For me, I hope to keep it real but sharing things that give hope or inspiration.
2. I know you've been really working hard to make this happen for a few years now. Your account has received the most exposure really in the past year. if you hadn't been on the bachelor what was your next plan to get exposure?
If the bachelor opportunity never landed on my lap, and full disclosure I truly didn’t understand the beast that it is, I would have continued to work locally teaming up with brands and business that could use my vision. All ideas and dreams have small beginnings and it fell right as the bachelor presented itself, I was just getting started!
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I think it’s also very important to drive in the idea to never give up. Creating your own brand & business is full of ups and downs, give and takes. Studies show it takes at least 5 years to implement and idea and have it truly up and running. There were days even after the Bachelor exposure I questioned what I was doing. I received more no’s than I could count from partnerships and businesses I was hoping to team up with. I spent a year barely making money with businesses that wanted to use my platform, time, and talent in exchange for products, not payment. I waited tables, I had to part ways and sell Sammy’s baby gear along with my personal items for extra income. So I needed to get creative and find ways to team with brands that could fill my home with necessities of what Sammy and I needed… such as Thrive Market (food) or Children's clothing brands. I felt silly at times, like I was making the most irresponsible choice with the career path I was choosing. Hours spent researching other influencers and brands just to send a hopeful email for a big break. I felt so unheard, like nobody cared about the difference I was trying to make with my gained social media platform. I didn’t have a plan on how to gain more exposure. I just knew I had to keep putting myself out there, get involved with events charities, network and most importantly not give up! It has been a long 4 years since being on my own. This is actually a great topic to expand on in a future blog…but for right now I can confidently say as I approach that 5 year mark I am exactly where I want to be!
3. What is the biggest challenge you have in the instagram industry?
The association with the Bachelor (Hey! Aren’t you Chelsea from the Bachelor?) and finding a balance between what I am passionate about sharing with my audience verse what their expectations and judgements are of me. Editing really butchered my morals and personality as it was exposed to millions and humiliated me leaving me unable to get out of bed and harsh crude messages inundated my inbox. The person TV created wasn’t the person I am. I worked so very hard to prove that point and I feel I am very far from that stigma that birthed almost 1 year ago. Turns out, it was all very fleeting.
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Small fish in a big pond. Instagram is a user friendly platform available for the world to use. Millions of people have an account and use it in so many different ways for so many different reasons. That said, there is always something new and engaging that catches your eye. It's so hard keeping up with all the creatives! Especially with no budget, equipment or help.
Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t. There are times that I want privacy in my personal life but when I step back from sharing certain aspects, such as motherhood/my son, I receive comments of people assuming I am no longer a mother. Yes that's right, literally snarky comments about how I’m never with my son when in fact I’m almost always with him, I just like privacy from time to time and Sammy deserves that. Or if I post too much of motherhood or my son, all of a sudden I’m living from my phone and not in the moment. It’s so important to keep in mind what you want to do with your content as you try hard to silence people who want to dictate your social media and also assume what’s happening in your life. They don’t have the control, and they will never be right.
Exposure can be toxic. Some followers want to believe they know who you are in and out regardless if you have ever met. It hasn’t happened in quite some time but I have defiantly fallen victim to IG bullies/trolls. While the Bachelor was airing I was once associated as being a villain when in real life not one person who personally knows me would ever say that about me. In fact it was laughable to those close to me. But they didn’t get it. I would wake with threatening messages from people across the nation mocking my motherhood and character. I was called horrible names like backstabber, snake, bitch, loser, (it goes on).. and shamed left and right. It left me in bed for days, not able to eat and extremely depressed and embarrassed. It was so hard to see clearly after that instant exposure in front of millions. I don’t think I could have ever prepared myself for the effects of the unknown of reality tv editing. I could have never imagine that my true character could be so distorted in a matter of seconds. I just want to simply remind people tread lightly as you scroll through IG. We all have hardships, we all have been through hell, have lost, and some of us are alone. What we see on IG are only little tiny squares that people choose to share… not squares that make them. Plus we will all interpret a photo differently… after all, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Those words are thoughts and opinions that stem from our own experiences & insecurities so before judging someone else, check yourself first. Be careful, Be nice.
4. What is one thing you'd like someone to know before they try to take a similar path as you?
Be ready for the backlash of exposure. It takes thick skin to put yourself out there and not only be criticized by others but to also criticize yourself based on likes and views. Be very careful about this dance with the devil as it can be mentally exhausting and unhealthy at times. Stay focused on your end goal, vision, passion and happiness and never ever try to live someone else’s life or live for others. Being true to yourself and unique will always succeed.
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Be ready for the trolls. I steer clear of tabloids and actually don’t sign on to twitter to avoid any negativity and Im not necessarily talking about myself. I hate reading hurtful comments and write ups on anyone. Its destructive and unnecessary. I had my entire life dug up in one second with this instant exposure. Everything from personal court documents to rumors about me dating an NFL football player. Tabloids even went as far as to research my family who had no involvement with the Bachelor. Being in the public eye is so invasive leaving you feeling vulnerable and as if you are being watched every second.
Do not focus on the likes and engagement. It is a vicious cycle of second guessing yourself compare to others. You are not someone else, you are yourself creating your brand, with your vision, for your happiness. The second you start comparing yourself to the MILLIONS of people on IG is the moment you will start to fail. Remain authentic, no matter what that looks like. Ignore and block any trolls that have hate in there hearts. Better yet kill them with kindness, send love, and block. Don’t listen to outside voices. building your brand is about letting the voice deep down inside be heard. Let every no or let down fuel you to push forward. Never ever give up. Consistency is key in social media, people like the expected and when you narrow in on 1-3 aspects you want to highlight in your brand, the expectations of your very lower and you will find your content to be well received.
5. What's the hardest part of this type of career? What is the best part?
The hardest part is standing out amongst millions. Social media gives the entire world the opportunity to shine on similar terms and it is up to you to find ways to stand out and capture a loyal, genuine audience that appreciate *you. The best part is inspiring others. I love the simplicity of a nice “DM” from another women that looks up to all that I stand for, because believe me you are put in a very vulnerable situation exposing all that is you.
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It is all up to you. It is literally in your control. The success of your brand, how far you want your brand to go, and what you make of it is all in your control! With that said, there is a ton of self discipline that can be accompanied by insecurity while you are constantly overwhelmed with images of what the person next to you is doing (“doing better”) compared to what you are doing. There is extremely pressure and anxiety that comes with this drive to stay top of mind in the IG world as you fight against the toxic mental battle of likes and engagement per post. There are nights I am sleepless trying to brainstorm ways to excel in social media. Ways to be seen but even better ways to be heard. I am going against the bachelor grain and not settling for one off deals with brands that everyone else is working with…and please don’t come at me thinking I’m downing or poking at anyone who does, I do sell items from time to time on my handle as it brings in income that helps with my overhead. I’m going in a different direction to find smaller businesses that could use my help or promote brands that I truly do use. So if it’s on my handle, I not only support the product but love the product. Also, I know I don’t have the luxury or freedom to get up and travel and be apart of events everyone else is attending in LA or Miami or Bali. This is another reason why I have decided to build my community while inspire others to visit it. Being from New England, it is very hard to find brands./businesses with the budget for paid partnerships so I am fighting through something that would otherwise be easy for other influencers with larger brands.
Dear lord I sounds like a pessimist and almost forgot to highlight the pros of an social media influencer career. I would say the control over your content is absolutely a pro. Coming out of reality tv I had no control over the edits of how I would be portrayed - I also had no control over what would be shown. Owning my own social media brand lets me brand myself, as I am, authentically. You as my viewers get to see glimpses of my life. You get to travel with me. You get insight of my daily routine, brands I use, places I go and occasionally motherhood bloopers. I love that. I love sharing what I am passionate about and being a social media influencer/ content creator allows me to do just that!
6. Where do you see your future with social media as a career going?
I am a proud New Englander and want to see my community grow. I would love to be the Face of New England. This may sound crazy but with the small platform I have I would love to make Boston and North a destination for many. We are lucky to live where we do and I want to share it with the world. My surroundings are what get me out of bed in the morning and I am beyond happy I am able to raise my son in Maine. With that said, my career will always involve Sammy and have his best interest. I want my son to be able to experience what I am experiencing. I want to show him the value in life in New England and all that it has to offer just as I want to show you. I will continue to work on finding a balance in social media that engulfs my life as a mother in New England.
A little more…
I have started adding to my platforms as a means to hit all audiences. Starting here with this website & blog. I am so far from tech savvy so the fact I have been able to do all of this in about 2 months time is impressive to me and keeps me motivated to provide you with more. I also have a youtube channel and have plans to, what do the kids call it? “Vlog” soon. My goal for YouTube is to provide short videos of “a day in the life” with both my career and as a mother. I’m frequently asked about my skin care routine and makeup application so why not put up a video on those topics too. As always I’m open to hear your ideas as I strive to provide you all with information not only worth my time creating but your time reading and watching so leave any suggestions below!
Thank you all for reading with an open mind! These are my personal opinions based on experiences. Always subject to change. As always, sending my love!