Scrolling through my feed I noticed something a little bit, well, interesting. Among the many, many pretty pictures and thought-provoking captions I hit like for, there were a few I scrolled right past with a heavy sigh. Why?
I’ve been blogging for over 5 years, making money through freelance writing, and creative courses, but also through sponsored posts, and affiliate income too. But I’ve often felt a little bit….icky about that side of my job. Despite the fact journalism makes me the least amount of money these days, I lead with that when someone asks me what I do, as that means I’m not selling to them.
What on earth is that about?
On Instagram, or in the blogosphere, so many of us are creating businesses from our passions and monetising in ways the previous generation wouldn’t have imagined was possible. We should be proud of ourselves and each other for creating thriving businesses that support our families.
Yet somehow there is a feeling of discontent around those of us earning money from the platform.
I shared my thoughts in an Instagram post after a grumpy afternoon questioning all of this and the response surprised me.
“Why don't we support each other monetarily? Why can't content creators ask for help to make more?,” my caption read.
The comments rolled in, and kept doing so, ranging from the surprised (people don’t support you?) to those who’d been feeling the same for months.
“You’ve vocalised exactly what I’ve been thinking for a while. I would get a bit down when I’d get less engagement with a #ad and then realised I was doing the same with other people.” - @thelovelydrawer
Those lightbulb moments are what I live for, but they’re nothing without a plan of how to move forward with a new framework for change.
How to support your fellow content creator.
Although the obvious ways might be to buy their course, or swipe up and buy that dress, this shouldn’t be the only way we support each other.
Freelance writer & photographer Kate O’Sullivan points out how problematic this can be when those less able to offer financial support feel pressured to contribute monetarily.
“Patreon, Paypal, Ko-fi requests can be ableist. We are not always in the financial position to support our favourite creators and acknowledging this is important.
Raising those voices up through free acts is just as valid, and often, takes a lot of energy from those who might not have much to spare. We need to value all contributions and make sure we make this as easy as possible if we expect audiences to support us.”
How to do #AD well.
And how can we create beautiful, engaging #ADs that reap the engagement they deserve? Here are three influencers showcasing how sponsored Instagrams can be done differently.
The Stories of Tori shares some great advice: “To best work with brands, I have to feel a connection to what I’m being approached to do or share because I always want to be able to tell a story as naturally as possible. If I can’t weave the use of a product into my every day without it being jarring, if I can’t make sense of attending an event, then it’s not for me and, in turn, won’t be for those who I communicate to.”
Content creator Kerry Villers creates beautiful images filled with whimsy and captions chock full of humour. Everything she creates is on brand and she puts the same amount of effort into a post whether she’s paid for it or not.
Writer & photographer Before and Again takes beautiful pictures in the most creative way, never interpreting anything the way you expect. Her sponsored posts are always surprising, engaging and fun.
So perhaps next time you scroll through your Instagram feed and see a post sporting #ad you'll stop, take a minute and hit that little like. Better yet, comment! As Emily Sharp, who works for Whalar and is an influencer herself puts it: "We could do well to remember that the person behind the post is making a creative living from them."
Wise words indeed.
Words by Lucy Lucraft
Image by @dfreske