I am not an influencer

I’m pretty sure most of you have noticed I’m not posting as frequently on my personal Instagram account @olle_e anymore. For the past two years, I’ve become a so called “micro influencer” and all of what that entails. Feed curation. Fresh fashion. Free products. Holiday pictures forever. Perfect meals and flatlays. Legs for days. But it’s definitely not as glamorous and luxurious as many seem to think. And most important of all, it doesn’t feel like me.

It all started when I moved to Brazil. There, Instagram was a place for me to find friends that shared my interest in photography. I met so many people who shot interesting and creative stuff for their accounts. I was mesmerized and I felt like I had found my place. Many of my new friends had only a couple of hundred followers, and I think I had around 1k back then. As we hung out, created hashtags and photo projects, and shot new fun photos every week, those numbers quickly began to rise for all of us. By the end of my year in São Paulo, I reached 10k. 

Companies started getting in touch, wanting me to shoot and post photos of their products. Obviously, I was quite happy getting that attention, and getting products for posts. Many of the products were things I wanted or needed anyway. But soon, making my feed attractive for companies and followers became a full time job. I worried about things such as:

  • If my next post can get more likes than the last one
  • If the company will approve of my aesthetic vision of their product
  • If I could post a picture with the same t-shirt for a second or third time, or if that would be too basic...

I had a lot of products and companies wanting my attention. My worries and the creative stress of having to constantly come up with new ideas for companies could quickly be seen in my feed. The quality of my content decreased and, as a result, the engagement and likes also dropped at a pretty fast pace. My inbox was full of emails from upset ‘Social Media Coordinators,’ asking when I’d post a picture with their watch, or if I’d received that perfume they’d sent me 6 weeks earlier.

Who was I doing all of this for? Sure, about 1 out of 5 companies paid a small amount to hire me, and that’s part of what I lived off for a while. But I also paid a high price. I compromised my integrity, my creativity, my time and the interest my followers had in me. 

Nothing on my account was giving me inspiration, joy or fulfilment. And although I was still using Instagram a lot, I simply stopped posting for weeks at a time. And this went on for months, until I realized I have to stop working with products that sell an idea of an unobtainable and unrealistic lifestyle.

I am not writing this to challenge people who are influencers or who aspire to be. I’m sharing a personal crisis that has led me to question myself and the use of my voice on the platform. All of these thoughts have been going around and around in my head for months. I haven’t been able to put anything into words until now.  

So I’ll try to revamp my Instagram account. My goal is to get back to basics and reconnect with what’s important to me. Apart from sharing photos of things I truly enjoy, I would also like to post about subjects that I’ve become more interested in for the past year or two, like the LGBTQ+ community and body ideals. I’m hoping I can post more life and truth, and if any brands appear, they’ll be brands with values that I identify myself with. I need to embark on this journey of self therapy or whatever you want to call it, and hopefully people will be able to relate.

It’s time to get real.