What it's like to ‘fail’ at being an influencer
“I was like, I’m just gonna bop around and take pictures of my outfit and hope for the best.”
A message for the graduating class of 2022. —Kate
In 2020, 50 million people worldwide self-identified as online creators. By the end of 2022, that number is expected to have doubled, so you’d be forgiven for thinking influencing is something anyone can just decide to do. TikTok, especially, is filled with accounts whose whole thing is telling other people how they, too, can hack the algorithms, grow a following, and quit their 9-5s to become a full-time influencer.
So Alexandria Haddad tried.
This was in 2012, before creators were appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and walking the Met Gala carpet, a time when OG bloggers were first pioneering the possibility of creating content online full-time. Enamored of this new potential career path and unhappy at her fashion job, Haddad quit her 9-5 and focused on her blog while living at her parents' house. But after six years, she finally had to admit: It wasn’t working.
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“I tried really hard,” she said on TikTok, which is where I first stumbled upon her story. “I was posting as often as I could, but I wasn’t seeing any opportunities come up for me that would make this a full-time gig.”
In 2018, Haddad decided to go back to 9-5 life, and she’s not alone. Her video is one of many posted by creators who are starting the long-overdue conversation about the unspoken reality of influencing: It doesn’t always work out.
I spoke with Haddad on the phone to hear a bit more about what “failing” at influencing looks like. In this interview for paid subscribers, Haddad and I talk about what went wrong with her influencing career, when she learned it was time to call it quits, and how it prepared her for the career she has now, as the founder of the social media agency Aesthetics Social.