Sorry, You Can't Be An Influencer / by Jennifer Chan

I don’t mean to crush your dreams.

It’s not that I have anything against influencers or am slighting their talents. The problem that I have is that people are attracted to their job because it seems glamorous.

You mean I can take beautiful, curated photos and companies will pay me thousands of dollars? You mean I can work whenever and however I want, and show off my creative side? Where’s the dotted line that you want me to sign?

Let’s dissect the role of an influencer on Instagram. What’s their actual job?

  • Find the perfect location/backdrop for the photo (that sometimes entails traveling if that means the advertisement will make more sense)
  • Rent or purchase the right equipment
  • Purchase clothes and/or accessories that aligns with the theme of the photo
  • Write excellent copy that summarizes the features of the product, while maintaining authentic to their readers.
  • Edit the shit out of the photo in post-production to make sure it looks flawless
  • Negotiate pricing and terms with PR companies

Out of all the influencers on Instagram, I only follow one. Although I recognize that he gets paid to create phenomenal advertisements, I don’t mind seeing his content because he’s built up a name for himself through his experience co-founding Stocky, and his amazing podcast and Youtubeplatforms. When I watch this video on Instagram and this video on Youtube, I not only want to research more into Kronoby watches but I also mutter to myself, “He’s one hell of a filmmaker.” It’s obvious that the advertisements that he makes requires a lot of thought, creativity, and technical skill.

The reality is that not all of us are cut out for certain jobs. Just because you like to argue doesn’t mean you’ll be an effective lawyer, and taking beautiful photos won’t make you a successful influencer. Work is work. And all work, to a certain degree, is unglamorous.

What we should really be glamourizing is honest work. The ability to feed your family by serving others — whether that’s driving public buses, teaching math to twelve year olds, or cleaning bars and nightclubs on weekend mornings (which my girlfriend did during undergrad). No, these responsibilities might not be picture-worthy, but these jobs are necessary for a functioning society.

Working at a legal aid clinic does not look like an episode of Suits.

Instead of expensive artwork on the walls, we have awesome posters promoting workers’ rights from the mid-1990s. Instead of a flat screen tv in the waiting room, we have a small box of toys and colouring books for clients who bring their children. Instead of catered lunches, we have a Kuerig machine. But whatever we do or don’t have is ancillary to the fact that we do good work that matters.

Sure, I wear a nice suit when I’m heading to the labour relations board or the human rights tribunal, but 90% of the time I show up to the office in jeans and a button-up. Yes, I argue before Vice-Chairs and go head to head against lawyers twice my age, but 90% of the time I do boring things like docket my time, return emails and phone calls, and sift through pages of cases.

I can assure you that whether a lawyer works on Wall Street or at a legal aid clinic, their life ain’t nothing like an episode of The Good Wife.

Your dream job is still work. Your entry-level job is still work. Your side-hustle is still work. Regardless of the job title or money you take home, it’s still work. Work is work is work.

No job is easy, least of all ones that look seemingly accessible on Instagram.

Instead of asking ourselves, “What job looks cool?” we should be asking, “What is an honest way to make money that helps others?”