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The truth about influencers.

LESS than two years ago, before my daughter graduated from college, I was surprised to see that many people her age wanted to be influencers. Not being an influencer as a hobby, mind you, but as a professional.

As someone who has been in media for a number of years, I have seen several incarnations of the influencer.

It all started with the blogger. Around 10 years ago, the blogger was the hottest guest in any press event. Bloggers, most of them professionals who blogged as a hobby, were everywhere.

Cecile Zamora, who was a newspaper columnist and designer before she became a blogger, was probably the Philippines's first power blogger. She was probably the first blogger to monetize her blog via an ad with a Filipino fast-food giant.

Other power bloggers included the fashion posse of Laureen Uy, Camille Co and many others.

What did these girls all have in common? Most of them came from upper middle class to wealthy backgrounds. This is why they seemed to lead exciting lives. They seemed so posh, and they were even in real life.

Pretty soon, these power bloggers were being paid for their content and appearing at events such as product launches.

Many people in the industry raised their eyebrows, but if you look at it objectively, bloggers are content creators who run and operate their own sites. Yes, they come from affluence but they also need to make a living. Think of it this way: I get paid for writing this column. The blogger doesn't get paid unless she or he is engaged by a brand.

The influencer slowly crept into the scene. I became conscious of their existence when I attended a four-day event hosted by a multinational. By my definition, an influencer does not need to be a blogger. He or she just needs to have a substantial amount of followers on social media, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Speaking of Instagram, this photo-sharing site has given birth to a new breed of influencers, called Instagrammers. They are those who post aesthetically pleasing photographs with witty and/or cryptic captions.

So why does everybody want to become an influencer? Aside from the perceived glitz and glamour, influencers get paid well. Think P50,000 for attending an event and posting three times on social media. I mean, for a three-hour event, that's not bad at all, right?

A YouTuber can get as much as P300,000 to attend an event and vlog about it. I mean, that's someone's salary for a year, right?

These influencers may seem really lucky, but they actually worked so hard to get to where they are right now. I've been on trips with them and those pictures you see on Instagram where they look so amazing? Those took a lot of work.

So that is tip No. 1. You can earn a lot of money from being an influencer but you need to work hard and be patient. Do not think it all comes overnight. It does not.

Tip No. 2: Do not quit your day job. It will be awhile before you can monetize your content, so you need a source of income.

Tip No. 3: Always be nice. That assistant who texts you may be a brand manager in the future. Be nice and respect everyone. It is not just for your career's benefit. You really need to treat people well.

Tip No. 4: Have a media kit and/or rate card. You can actually do this yourself at minimal expense. Consider this an investment in your future. Having a rate card makes you seem professional.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 26, 2019
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