I Gave up Being an Instagram Travel Influencer!
If you had asked me at the start of the year what I wanted to do with my life, I would have told you I wanted to be an Instagram travel influencer. The dream of taking stunning photos in cute dresses in locations all around the world was all I wanted to do. I loved the idea of earning money to work with brands, getting sent products to promote, and eventually, work with some pretty impressive travel brand names.
THE START OF MY 2019 LOOKED LIKE THIS:
I grew my Instagram to 12K
I perfected my brand pitches
I landed some pretty cool collaborations
I landed more collaborations
I landed an incredible writing opportunity that paid really well
I landed even more collaborations
I worked and studied full time while doing all of this
I broke up with my partner of 4 years and moved houses
All within the first six months.
As the year progressed, I began to realise that I actually kind of resented the process of being an Instagram travel influencer. The idea of posing for photos every single day, being picky about the clothing I wore, and constantly engaging on Instagram, wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.
I burnt out.
Like, if I was a comet floating through space I would have fallen so hard to earth I would have protruded out the other side. I didn’t even realise that I was doing it at the time, but I wore myself so thin I could barely find the motivation to finish my second last semester of Uni. It’s no surprise then, that I began to resent everything I was doing. I completely stopped posting on Instagram, almost sabotaging an awesome brand collaboration that was in the works. I couldn’t stand to look at my blog, let alone write for it. And I convinced myself I didn’t want to be a freelance writer (which has been my dream job for a few years now).
I stopped everything, and I did nothing.
Around three months passed where I barely touched a thing. The drive, motivation, and passion had left me and in its place was emptiness. The idea of posting on Instagram or engaging with people made me want to throw my phone into a river. Logging onto oneworldwanderer.net made me want to delete the website altogether. And I’d be lying if dreams of laying under a mountain somewhere away from phone service didn’t cross my mind once or twice.
This burnout, despite being from pushing myself way too hard, I put down to four things.
1. I WASN’T DOING WHAT I WANTED TO DO.
My dream has always been to write. I grew up with a creative flair and a passion for writing. What? I hadn’t (and still haven’t) decided. But it was the written word that I always adored more than anything in the world. Although Instagram and my blog allowed me the ability to do some writing and be creative, I was pushing my writing aside. My in-the-work novel was put on a backpedal. My university subjects suffered. I barely wrote anything because I was too focused on Instagram and pitching brands to work with.
I knew something had to give in order to make me write again.
2. I WASN’T MAKING MUCH MONEY AS AN INSTAGRAM TRAVEL INFLUENCER.
Although I did make money on Instagram, most of the collaborations I did were product-for-post collaborations where I got sent products and in return had to promote them via photos and Instagram stories. Don’t get me wrong, some of these were pretty awesome, but free products don’t exactly pay the bills.
The couple of ‘experience’ partnerships I had were what really kept me going. These were the things that were totally worth the hours and hours I was putting into my blog and Instagram because I got to do what I wanted to do: travel the world and document it.
Working as an Instagram travel influencer is not all about the money, but when you work and work and work your butt off, it’s nice to be earning some money for it. It takes A LOT of time, energy, and frankly, your own money, to make it in the business. And if it isn’t where your passions lie, there’s a good chance it won’t be where you find success. Nor will it be where you want to enjoy spending your days for the rest of your life.
3. I WASN’T TAKING CARE OF MYSELF.
I’m a sucker for punishment. I always have been. Some would call it a workaholic, an addiction to stress, allergy to boredom… the list goes on. And while it may be true, the older I get the more I realise I need to take care of myself- mentally and physically. I need to binge Netflix, go to the beach and read a book, and not constantly be thinking about my massive to-do list.
Eating healthy and exercising a tonne had been put aside for so long, and these are two things I really need in my day to day life go keep sane. When I was super busy at the start of the year, I didn’t allow myself any time to do anything that wasn’t essential. If it wasn’t Uni, I was blogging, pitching, and engaging on Instagram. Things that honestly made me so unhappy. I was living my life by a clock, justifying things like how fast I can get to the grocery store and how long I can spend there before it becomes a waste of my time.
It took me a while, but I’ve since realised that is not how I want to live my life.
4. I WAS LETTING THE ‘INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER’ LIFE DESTROY MY CONFIDENCE.
We’ve all heard the conversations about Instagram ruining self-confidence and being a platform where judgment runs rampant. For me, it wasn’t necessarily about comparing myself to others. Instead, I was being brought down by fake users and negative users. Even the wanderlust that came from looking at other incredible travel bloggers made me hate the platform because I wasn’t out there exploring the world, I was at my desk studying.
Instagram made me restless. It made me think I actually sucked at what I was doing. But looking back, I can see that I was actually kicking ass. Sure I wasn’t rich or getting collabs with the Mariot Hotel or Singapore Airlines, but I was getting collabs, and I was seeing results.
The negative feelings I got from logging onto Instagram and constantly checking my comments, insights, and likes, was one of the main reasons I decided to quit the Instagram game and focusing on my blog, my freelance writing, and my health.
No platform is worth feeling like shit.
My break in blogging, writing, and Instagram has allowed me the clarity I needed to realise that writing is my goal. I’d love to create a life where I earn passive income from both my blog and my freelance biz, but truthfully, being an Instagram travel influencer isn’t in the picture. I’ll use the platform to document my travels, and if an awesome blogging collaboration comes up that requires a photo or two to be posted on my Instagram, I won’t say no. But I’m not going to worry about who’s looking, my engagement, or whether or not I’m getting paid. I just want to use that platform to share my awesome travel photos. I want to focus on my writing- both creative and in my freelance biz, and start to create a healthier, happier, more balanced life.
With my university graduation mere weeks away (eek!), and a change of scenery coming my way (I’m coming for you Canada) I’m excited to see what the next chapter holds for me.
One thing is for sure, there won’t be any burnouts!!