For our very first ‘Under the Influence’ we get to meet Emma Campbell, owner of Powder Rooms, full-time lifestyle blogger and influencer based in Manchester!
According to Influencer Marketing, an ‘influencer’ is someone who has ‘the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience / a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages’.
Q: Do you agree with this definition of an influencer? Can the term be defined in such a linear way? Are there other terms that you prefer?
A: Yes, I’d say that is a pretty spot on definition. Everyone is spending so much time on social media these days, that all eyes are on ‘other people’, and it’s the most effective way for products, places, item, you name it to be brought to the spotlight.
Of course, each influencer has their own unique following and their subjects they talk about.
Q: How did you become an influencer?
A: I started blogging 11 years ago, when blogging was quite new then and the industry was small. I had been blogging for nine months when my blog won an award with Cosmopolitan magazine, which opened up so many doors and gave me the visibility I didn’t even know I could get! I went to London Fashion Week, collaborated with brands, and even gained freelance work with fashion brands, launching their own brand blogs.
Fast forward a few years, and the industry definitely boomed. Blogs became very popular, and then of course, Instagram came along, and a ‘new’ form of blogger rose. Instagram influencers kind of fast-tracked into the world of influencing as there isn’t always the need for a consistent articles to take place. Their high quality imagery set them ahead, and I knew I had to work on this to keep afloat.
Luckily, I’m still here! I’ve had to work ridiculously hard. Over the 11 years I would attend events constantly, network and meet brands and other influencers. I worked to gifted collaborations for years before I made a living from this. Now, it’s even harder to stand out so hard work is crucial.
Q: Was this always what you wanted to do? What did you study and what were your job aspirations?
A: No, but I always knew I wanted to work within fashion and journalism. When I was 18 I went to university to do a BA Hons in Fashion Promotion and Journalism, hoping to cut it within the fashion journalism industry. However, back then there weren’t as many opportunities in Manchester as there are now, so I would freelance and work for free for London media companies, which led me to set up my own blog in 2010.
I then spent ten years working within fashion, beauty and lifestyle PR and Marketing for an array of brands. I finally took influencing and blogging full time three years ago, and I’ve never looked back! It’s opened many other doors – I now take on clients, producing blog content for them and SEO work too.
Q: Do you consider being an influencer a full-time job?
A: I do, but it isn’t something I want to consume me. It can be a cut-throat industry and not the healthiest one for the mind, which is why I work with my own channels, creating content for brand blogs and social media.
I also have my own online store where I create illustration and poem prints, and also letterbox gift packages. I do bridal makeup too – lots of strings to the bow there! I like the diversity and I always think that multiple income streams and skills are key for freelancing and small businesses.
Q: What does an average work day look like for you?
A: Every day is different, but I’ll usually start it by going through my email. Because my blog is 11 years old, it ranks well on Google and therefore attracts advertisers from all over the world. I’ll usually have emails from USA and Australia enquiring about advertising packages on the blog. I spend time in the morning responding and creating content and adverts for them.
Then, I usually complete some content tasks for brands I freelance for, before getting orders out the door for my Etsy shop.
I work Instagram around the day – if I have a campaign to shoot I try to do it around midday before I lose natural day light, and film some story clips too.
I usually work from 8am-7pm, but can give myself the breaks I need when I like. Before the pandemic, I would be at events in the evening … not sure when they will return!
Q: Which platforms do you actively use and which is your favourite?
A: I’m still an avid Instagram fan regardless of the TikTok boom. I’ve tried YouTube and TikTok but I’m definitely more of an Instagram girl. I love Pinterest for my own browsing, and for my bridal makeup business, Facebook works well!
Q: Do you believe that influencers have a moral duty to take a stand and be activists for ideals they stand for?
A: I think it depends on the audience they have and the size of it. For me, I use social media for everyday life, sharing the things I love and struggles I might have. I am honest and realistic, but there are certain topics I don’t divulge because social media can be a cruel place for opinions. Politics is one of them – I accept everyone has different opinions so I keep mine to myself – with these topics and a few others.
Having said that, those who have huge followings and are highly influential do have a duty to make the right impression, as people can follow their habits and what they’re doing easily.
The pandemic is an example: I have unfollowed countless influencers after seeing them break the rules and portray a sloppy approach to COVID.
Q: Do you feel as though the pandemic has affected influencers in a ‘positive’ way?
A: I think it’s positive – everyone’s online now and people are spending more time on their devices for communication and entertainment. It might have brought out more competition for influencers, but brands now need influencers as ways of getting their brand out there, over other ways they once relied on.
Q: Do you feel pressure from your followers to act a certain way or produce certain content? How do you create boundaries or deal with the pressure?
A: I’m such an open book both offline and online, so it’s easy for me to just do what I do. Obviously, not everyone is going to like you, and sometimes I’ll receive negative comments about something I’ve done or something I like, but that’s fine.
I do refuse to collaborate with a lot more brands these days due to time and whether they are a good fit, but overall, if there is something I genuinely like or want to try, I will share it.
I am cautious of how many people are watching my content, so again, I just try to keep everything as honest and as real as possible, and then it’s up to everyone else if they want to continue following or not.
Q: What is the influencer scene like in Manchester?
A: Manchester is amazing for the blogger and influencer scene. I’ve met so many amazing friends along the way, and at one point, the events and meetings were the biggest part of my social life.
Manchester has boomed with brands over the years, from fashion and beauty to fitness and health, so it’s been nice to meet with them and work with them first hand instead of travelling to London all the time. I’m always up for connecting and supporting others so, lots of times, I introduce myself and build up online friendships with others.
Q: What is your favourite thing about being an influencer?
A: The variety of brands to be introduced to and opportunities that come my way – and meeting so many people, even if it is online! I’ve also had to push myself to learn more: SEO, video editing, photography, all skills I may not have been so eager to get into had I not gone down this route.
It’s been one big creative journey and I love it.
Q: What is your least favourite thing about being an influencer?
A: The constant pressure to be active online. If I have 2-3 days where I do nothing but create articles for brands or run my shop and I have nothing to put out there on Instagram, views and follower engagement can drop quite dramatically.
Q: What advice would you give a student who would like to build their online following?
A: I would say to find a niche – don’t copy anyone and find something you are passionate about sharing. It’s an overcrowded space now, but if there is a skill, or something that can be brought to set them apart, try to find it and work on it. Video is the way forward, so if you can capture high quality videos that appeal and relate to others, the growing will come with time.
Also network, network, network!
It really is about who you know sometimes. Have an end goal – what content do you want to be loved for producing? What do you want people to feel when they come across you online?
If you’d like to learn more about working in the media, you can get tickets for the Women In Media Conference here.