What REALLY Happens When You Gain Popularity Online
If you're on an entrepreneurial path, there's a good chance that there are 5 to 10 influencers who you follow actively.
You fervently read their email blasts, watch their videos on YouTube and tune into their Facebook lives. You might buy from them or you might not, but one thing's for sure: You are certain that people like them have it all figured out.
They've "made it". They have a huge audience who loves them. They make crazy amounts of money. They live the dream life that you so badly crave. Life is easy for them now.
But business influencers also often receive a lot of backlash for making it all "look so easy". Or not sharing enough value. Or taking advantage of their audience by pitching their products too much. And there's an increasingly loud conversation happening online about influencers who aren't transparent, legitimate, and committed to their audience.
Before you spiral into your own opinions about business influencers - whether it's as a critic or someone who strives to become them - here are some things that you should know about "making it" that no one seems to be talking about.
- It's A Ton of Pressure
When you build a committed audience of people who depend on and admire your content, the "freedom" to do what you want suddenly becomes second priority to the needs of algorithms and fan demands. Followers and social platforms aggressively expect you to create better, more creative, more original, more insightful content on a daily and weekly basis, and if you don't, you risk losing a drastic number of subscribers and viewers. In this never-ending race against your competitors to create bigger and better content, it often makes it much more stressful than it is enjoyable.
Aside from the actual creation process, there are thousands of hours being put in behind the scenes that you don't see - hours that are spent editing, writing, filming, designing, strategizing, and pitching.
And that time often involves sitting on your couch for 16 hours straight in sweatpants surrounded by coffee and various snacks to keep you energized throughout the day. It isn't glamorous or sexy. And for many, it leads to feeling isolated, depressed, and paranoid.
Of course, this doesn't even include the hours spent actually fulfilling your clients' orders, whether that's physical product delivery, coaching sessions, online support, mastermind calls, or progress reviews.
Between creating content for various platforms (social media, email list, webinars, etc), fulfilling client needs, working on marketing (funnel building, getting into major media outlets, pitching live events to speak at, running Facebook Ads, etc), and managing the immense amount of expenses you have, it's a massive, unimaginable amount of work that most will never encounter.
- It's expensive
A lot of business influencers get criticized for charging too much or being "money hungry". It's as if all of these entrepreneurs are receiving payments from clients and immediately putting that money into their next flight to Bora Bora without a care in the world.
Let's get real about what it takes to grow a platform, maintain an engaged audience, and consistently sign clients in 2018.
First of all, you have to have all of the tech necessities that will help you organize and perfect your lead generation systems. That means having a funnel software like ClickFunnels (about $100 a month), an email marketing software like ConvertKit ($50 per month), website hosting like WordPress or Squarespace ($20 per month), webinar software (can be thousands per year), video editing software (hundreds or thousands per year), integration tools like Zapier and Deadline Funnel (thousands per year), team members (sales reps, tech specialists, web designers, copywriters, PR experts, Google AdWords experts, Facebook Ads experts, the list goes on), coaches and consultants to help you get better (can be upwards of $30,000 a year), masterminds (thousands per year), and paid media spend (thousands each month going into Facebook Ads alone).
That means that in addition to all of the "normal" monthly expenses that most people have - rent, household bills, cell phone bill, food, car payment, etc - you typically have to spend at least $10,000 extra per month in order to even keep your business alive online.
This doesn't include taxes, obviously, which is something that no one seems to talk about. Depending on how much you make and where you live, you're typically giving a solid percentage of your revenue straight to the IRS every single month. The more you make as a business owner, the more you owe in taxes, so it's a double-edged sword that you cannot escape.
- Imposter Syndrome Never Fully Goes Away
I work with high seven figure entrepreneurs who will get on coaching calls with me and still express concerns about their right to be selling what they're selling.
Influencers are really good at suppressing the "limiting belief" that they aren't good enough or smart enough or talented enough to be doing what they're doing, but with the increasing pressure to constantly impress their audience and other influencers, feeling inadequate can become a bigger and bigger reality.
Of course, this isn't the case for all business influencers (none of these elements are), but many have an external confidence that cannot be shaken. On camera, they seem very self-assured, stress-free, and excited about their work. But simultaneously, their self-esteem as a human being is crumbling. And when your self-confidence (how you feel about your success on the surface level) and self-esteem (what you think about yourself when you're lying in bed alone at night) aren't aligned, it creates a disconnect in your brand and positioning as an expert. When this issue isn't addressed, it typically leads to fast burn-out, overwhelm, and "I've decided to shut down my business" posts on Facebook.
The goal of this isn't to showcase whether being a business thought leader is good or bad. It's to bridge the gap between subscribers and influencers, gain an understanding on what's going on behind the curtain, and encourage new viewers in this industry to enter with an open mind instead of blatant and ignorant criticism. It's also to show aspiring influencers that things aren't always glamorous, and the more success you achieve, the more responsibility you'll have to hold the heavy weight of the platform you've built. It's an honor to be in that position, but also one that shouldn't be blinded by fame and success. No matter what you choose to do, know the realities of what's happening, and make educated decisions forward.