This post originally appeared on the blog MakingManhattan.com.
By Caroline Vazzana
When I started Making it in Manhattan a year ago, I was deemed a “fashion editor” or “fashion writer.” That was the title I had been given – and honestly, that perfectly described what I did. Fast forward and my peers and companies I work with now call me an “influencer.”
The shift started as my readership and following on both my personal Instagram and on Making it in Manhattan grew. Instead of my inbox being flooded solely with press releases and product launches, brands started reaching out to me asking if I would consider wearing something from their line and posting a picture on my account. The best part? They would pay me to do it. Even though this concept was totally foreign to me, I figured, if the product is something I would wear, then why not post it? From there, once a few brands saw that I was doing sponsored content, more and more opportunities began coming my way. And soon I wasn’t only being asked to do posts, but to appear in campaign videos and larger collaborations.
So, here I am again, facing this elephant in the room, what does it mean to be an influencer? An influencer, to me, is someone who you look to, for advice, leadership and guidance. It’s someone who, whether they know it or not, has impacted or influenced another’s life. To me, it’s not just about the numbers. Sharing your distinct voice and a clear message, no matter how big or small your following may be, is how I see the role of an influencer. Guess what? This means you could be one, too. If you think being an influencer is your calling, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Find your voice. Before you can say anything, find your voice. Do you want to be positive and inspirational? Do you want to keep it real and candid? Discover what it is you want to say and how. It’s important to ask yourself what are you bringing to the conversation that isn’t being said already? Once you find that, you’re good to go.
Keep it genuine. Above all, stay genuine and true to yourself. One of my favorite quotes is, “You are you, and that is your superpower.” Everyone else is already taken so make sure to be yourself!
Know your followers. This can take some time, but try to learn who your follower is. Is she eighteen and lives in New York? Or is she thirty-five and lives in Texas? Once you figure that out, you will know who to talk to, and who to target, and that will help you grow.
Research, research, research. Since becoming an influencer takes much more than posting a pretty picture, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the key social media trends. You should constantly be on the lookout for ways to leave your mark and disrupt the industry with your platform. The term influencer is evolving, so you’ll want to be the one of the people leading the pack, and trying new things on social media- instead of following the crowd.
Know your worth. Once you start growing and building your platform, take time to find your worth. No one is going to value you, more than you.
Caroline Vazzana is a fashion writer, editor, and stylist living and working in her hometown of New York. She’s worked for Anna Sui, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and InStyle. She has collaborated with designers including Betsey Johnson and Diane Von Furstenberg, and has styled celebrities for various red carpets like the MTV Video Music Awards and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Caroline is currently the Founder & Creative Director of MakingManhattan.com where she hopes to shed light on the industry to the future fashion generation. Make sure to follow her everywhere @cvazzana for an inside look into her day to day in NYC.