Guys, it’s the big FOUR – OH!
(OH!, as in OH my God!)
I published my very first post in January 2014 (technically I published it in December, but didn’t tell a single soul about it until a month later) and haven’t looked back since. The first post was called Cheng Style Workouts and included 3 boring paragraphs with run on sentences, no photos, and absolutely no humour.
I think I wrote like that for at least a year. Does that even count as blogging??
OF COURSE IT DOES!
Every year since I started Sweat Is Sexy/ Sweaty and Fit/ and (finally) Born to Sweat, I’ve gotten myself closer and closer to where this blog is today.
The beginning! 2014
I’m not going to give you a breakdown of my favorite posts (love this one tho), how much traffic I get on a day to day basis (it’s so up & down I don’t even know who I am half the time), or what my goals are for 2018 (world domination). I’m going to give you a little idea of how I got to be a full-time blogger. An INFLUENCER, if you will.
Ive been doing this now for FOUR years, however, only in the last few months did blogging/influencing actually become a full-time job for me.
Being an influencer is a strange idea for many people. They dont really comprehend how I make money, or who pays me. Does Instagram pay me? Do they take a cut?
Im gonna share with you what goes on behind the scenes and how long it took for me to make this my full-time gig.
For almost 2 years i did everything without getting paid a dime. I didn’t mind it at all, I loved it. It was perfect because Adam and I were doing long distance for a year, and I had nothing to occupy my time with. Except for my online baby.
Long distance was great for my brand, horrible for my heart
2016 was the year that I actually started making some money, though it was minuscule at best. At that time I had around 15,000 Instagram followers. I didn’t know what my worth was yet, and these brands probably didn’t either. I had always envisioned quitting my job and making money off of this full-time, but had no idea if it would ever happen.
In 2016 I also signed up with an online influencer agency called #paid. I signed up with a few other ones as well, but they only offered dubious looking products, at even dubious-er prices. #paid was simple – I could connect my Instagram account, name a price, and they would contact me when a brand was interested in working together.
Separate from that, I also started getting emails from PR companies who represented different brands wanting to work together. That was a bit more challenging. I would have to negotiate rates based on what their budget was, go through the contracts myself, and handle all the responses with the PR companies. I also wasn’t really aware of the nuances of shooting different products, WHILE including myself in the photo – something like an on-the-go drink is easy enough to photograph, but something like probiotics in their containers is a different story.
Making pro-biotics cute!
At this point I wasn’t getting a ton of collaborations, maybe one every month or two and it was easy enough to handle. However, the beginning of 2017 was a completely different story!
In two weeks I had secured partnerships with Winners, Loreal, Adidas, and Brita. I couldn’t believe it! I felt so lucky. I ended up getting flown out to Montreal, then a few days later to San Francisco. I also had a full day photoshoot, 3 videos to film, OH, and a full time job to go to. HAH.
2017 was also the year that Instagram workout videos EXPLODED. I had been creating workout videos for three years by that point and it finally was starting to pay off. Each time I posted a new video, I would get between 300-1,000 new followers and 50,000+ views. It was insanity. My following grew from 20,000 to 50,000 followers in less than 6 months.
Not too long after all the craziness ensued, I was contacted by Shine Influencers to sign with their influencer agency. Essentially they are similar to a modeling agency, except their talent includes bloggers, Instagrammers, and YouTubers, as opposed to inhumanly beautiful 6 ft tall beings.
It’s been 9 months since I’ve been with Shine, and it’s been career changing (literally). They handle all the emails, contracts, negotiating, and questions on my behalf. They take a 20% cut (just as all other agencies in Toronto do), and it’s genuinely worth it for getting the extra stress off my back (shout out to my agent Lindsay xx). Unlike what you might think though, it is most definitely a 2-way street. Shine brings me contracts and collaborations, but I too, bring food to the table. I don’t just sit back and hope for the collaborations to roll in.
If it wasn’t for them, I might not have had the courage to quit my full-time job, and believe that I could make all of this work for me. It’s a good feeling, knowing you have a team behind you, on your side.
So, back to that question I get asked so often – does Instagram pay me?
No, not in a million years would Instagram pay me.
The brands that I work with pay me. They pay for me to blog about their products, showcase on Instagram, and sometimes even attend their events. And while you might think that seems a little dishonest and without integrity, think about how many products you’ve seen me promote in the last two years. And compare that with some of the other influencers you may follow. I work with brands that fit Born to Sweat. Companies that I have used consistently over the last several years and believe in their mission and their product.
Working with Winners, one of my favorite brands
However, just because you see me promote something, doesn’t mean it’s always paid. I love working with and promoting local brands, friends and freelancers that may not have the budget to justify spending it on influencers. Just like some brands gave me a chance when I was still a tiny tadpole (I am now a large bullfrog), I want to give back to those who could do with a helping hand.
And THAT, my friends is the short version of how I got to this point in my life! Lots of words, lots of tears, and 4 years later, here I am! I’ll be coming out with another post detailing what it’s like being a full-time fitness influencer, and what EXACTLY it is, that I do with my days.
Other than that, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all you readers. For the people who have stuck with me since ‘Cheng Style Workouts’ and actually continued to read after that (you must have been pretty bored 4 years ago?). I love you, I love you. I love you.