By: Lian Dolan
I aspire to be a bigger influencerin 2019. All the kids are doing it and Iwant in. How hard can it be to convince your friends and family to buy stuffyou’ve been given for free? I’ve had a lot of other jobs with suspicioustitles, both currently and in the past, like: momblogger (wince), podcaster (increasinglytier 1) and ski host (fancy title for ski bum with a uniform). This influencerbusiness seems like something that could be valuable to my ego and bottom line.
Recently, a click-bait headlinefrom the Daily Mail caught my attention: “Confessions of a WannabeInfluencer.” The article told the compelling tale of a 20-something Instagramstar who spent most of her time photographing herself in mirrors while wearingfitness clothing.
Sure, it was hard staying incamera-ready shape and posing herself in the most flattering angle for everyshot. And she’d had some anxiety issues, thanks to the constant scrutiny ofliving her entire life online. But, she had just landed a deal promoting vegancondoms! How could I not want in on that?
Having influence used to bereserved for people like teachers, public servants, first ladies, and MotherTeresa. You know, people who actually influence others in terms of theirintellectual, spiritual, or political life, making the world a better place tolive. How quaint. Now anyone with a smartphone and the desire to berelentlessly self-promotional can add the word influencer to their social media profile as long as they cantranslate followers into purchasers.
Here’s the three-step process forbecoming an influencer: take photos; add a dozen hashtags; check integrity atthe door. Then, watch those vegan condom deals come rolling in. At least that’sthe impression I got when I studied “How to Become an Influencer: 10 Tips forSuccess” on the Forbes website. Istopped at No. 8 because that tip was “Collab.” Hey, Forbes, if you don’t have time to write the entire word collaborate, then I really don’t havetime to read all 10 tips.
I know that over the years I’ve hada small amount of influence on my community. (“Community” is what you’resupposed to call your listeners, readers, and Facebook friends when you work inthe online space. And “online space” is what we call, um, I don’t know. I’venever really understood what it is. Could it be The Cloud?)
Anywho, I know that over the yearsof doing my podcast and writing books, my work has inspired people to visit theOregon Shakespeare Festival, discover FridayNight Lights, and order surprisingly flattering and sophisticated blacksequined pants from Chico’s based upon my recommendations. I’ve never been paida dime by these entities, but I’m proud of my accomplishments: mo’ Shakespeare,mo’ Riggins, mo’ sequins. I’m no “celeb influencer” like Reese or Gwyneth orany of the Kardashians, but I could live a contented life knowing that phrasemay be on my tombstone.
This is the year I take myinfluence to the next level, upping my hashtag game and perfecting mypromotional selfie. I’m grateful that in Pasadena we have plenty of gentlesouls doing the truly hard work of influence: teaching our kids; putting out wildfires;working the night shift at the ER; paying a living wage to employees;volunteering at Union Station; making art, music, theater; running for officefor all the right reasons; ministering to elderly people; saving old buildingsin town so they can be turned into high-end retailers.
It’s a relief that others are doingmeaningful work so I can work my Instagram account for all it’s worth. Thankyou. All I really want out of my influence-peddling efforts is a comped VikingRiver Cruise for two, a sure sign that I watch too much Masterpiece Theatre and that my curiosity about the world extendsabout as far as visiting fairy-tale castles along the Rhine River while wearinga Land’s End trench coat surrounded by similarly clad middle-aged travelers. VikingRiver Cruise = my #vegancondom.