Whether you’re a vet, teacher, nail technician or insurance broker, your job title usually does a pretty good job at summing up what you do, and often when we meet people for the first time, it comes up in conversation because, rightly or wrongly, it helps build a picture of who we are and what we hold important.
But for me, I’ve found myself in a bit of a weird place with my job title. For years, I worked on teen and women’s magazines so it was fairly easy: “I work for a magazine”, I’d say. Or “I’m a writer”. But since I’ve been self-employed and have found myself working more on this blog, social media and my podcast, it’s been harder to (a) explain so that people understand (“But HOW do you make money from that?”) (b) not come across as a self-obsessed idiot (Yes, I post a lot of photos of myself online) (c) work out what I think my job title should be vs how others label me.
In the past few years, it’s become more and more common for people who do my job to be labelled as an ‘influencer’. People who work in PR and marketing use it, when talking about people they want to work with, the media use it when talking about the industry, and more recently, my peers and colleagues have started using it to describe themselves. People who once introduced themselves as a blogger, now comfortably refer to themselves an influencer.
Which is totally fine, if that’s how they view their job. One of the perks of being self employed is you get to carve out your own role – you don’t have a boss telling your what your position should be and how you should do it.
But ‘influencer’ isn’t my job title.
I’m well aware that influencing people is part of what I do – both unintentionally (when I share a view, or a book I’ve just read) and intentionally (when a brand asks me to share their message or product with you, my readers and followers) – but it’s only part of what I do. And it’s not why I do this.
I see my job as writing blog posts which entertain, inform or challenge. I write about stuff I notice in everyday life, I write about things I feel passionately about, I write about stuff that I know others find important. I started this blog because as a new mum, I was suddenly on this massive learning curve and wanted to help others on that same journey. Yes, it sounds naff, but I genuinely want to help people. I started my podcast last year because I wanted to talk about different elements of being a mum, and hear different people’s stories – and at that point, there were no podcasts in the UK offering this. I’m working on a book and the idea for it came to me when I was sitting in a room full of new mums, and I had this overwhelming urge to do something to support them.
If you listen to one of my podcasts while doing the night feed, or if you grab five sacred minutes at 2pm with a cuppa and Jammy Dodger, while reading one of my blog posts, and it makes you feel less alone or brings you some reassurance or even just makes you smile, then job done.
So this is why I do what I do. But like everyone I need to pay the bills, and I work with a select number of brands who want to talk about their products or service to the readership I’ve built up here on the blog, the following I’ve got on social media and the listeners I’ve gained on my podcast. (Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2 has written a post which explains that process in detail, go have a read if you’re interested) Like Emma, I turn down a lot more commercial work offers than I accept – it has to be something I’d use or buy, or something I’m interesting in trying out, and also, it has to be something I feel inspired to share.
But just because I make my income through advertising, it shouldn’t – and doesn’t – define what I do.
Midwives make tea for their patients post-birth, but they’re not described as a tea lady (or man). Hairdressers sweep the floor but they don’t see themselves as cleaners. We all have elements of our job that we do, but which don’t define the job, or us.
You might think it’s a bit different for bloggers, but if you look at the rest of the media world – TV channels, radio, magazines, newspapers, websites – they all make money through either advertisers or asking people to pay to watch/read/listen (or both!). People are able to write newspaper articles or make a drama or documentary because the people consuming them are either paying outright (think BBC licence fee/SKY TV charges/cost of buying a newspaper) or because advertisers are paying to be seen by those people (eg. ITV/Stylist magazine/commercial radio stations like Heart). Those people writing the newspaper articles or making the TV programmes aren’t seen as influencers – they’re described as journalists or TV producers. The content they’re making often sits alongside commercial messages but their entire existence isn’t defined by those adverts.
And neither is mine. The adverts pay my bills but they’re not my job, they allow me to do my job – which is creating content that I think you’ll love. So what am I? I’m a multi-hyphenated freelancer. I’m a blogger, I’m a writer, I’m a podcaster. But I’m not an influencer.
You check out some of my recent content here:
Images: Sarah Lou Francis