5 Things I've Learned About Being a "Wine Influencer" in 2018
Influencer. What does that really even mean? As a Xennial (the generation of people born on the cusp of Gen X and Millenials), there is a bit of an “eye roll” connotation when we hear this word. We associate “Influencer” with a group of Millenial daydreamers who don’t appreciate hard work and a little elbow grease. I’ve never really felt like one to be honest. When I had 500 followers I thought, “maybe I’ll feel like one once I hit 5,000?” When I hit 5,000 followers I thought, “maybe I’ll feel like one when I hit 10,000?” To this day, I still feel strange when people refer to me as a “Wine Influencer” because I never started Grape Chic to be recognized as such. I started Grape Chic to share my love of wine and fashion with the world in hopes to bring inspiration, confidence, and help people step outside of their “wine box.” Turns out, people were interested in what I had to say…in the shoes I wore while saying it! It hasn’t been the easiest for me to create quality content and manage my time accordingly while working a full time job. In fact, being an “Influencer” is really hard work. It’s the exact opposite of what we associate the word with in our minds. As 2018 winds down, I’ve had time to think about my triumphs and tribulations. I am excited to share with you the top 5 things I’ve learned while being a part of this crazy world.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Growing up as a competitive dancer, my mom and dance teachers would always tell me, “there is always going to be someone better than you. What matters is that you give everything YOU have to give out there.” That may sound a little harsh at first, but there are really no truer words. In the world of wine and blogging, there is always going to be someone with more wine education than you, prettier content than you, and access to more resources than you, but that doesn’t mean what you are doing is less than. What matters is that you are staying true to yourself because that’s why people stick around. The more time you worry about what others are doing (or who they’re working with), the less time you’re spending on creating your own magic.
2. Community is Key
To be immersed in this community has brought me friendships and opportunities I never thought would be possible. Whether you’re a sommelier, retail associate, blogger, or enthusiast, you have something important to bring to the table. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my fellow peers lifting me up and teaching me new things everyday. Connect with other wine bloggers in your hometown, and go to those wine store tastings you see advertised on Facebook. The wine world is a beautiful place of like-minded people, and I guarantee it will only lift you higher.
3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short
It may look all perfect and glamorous on Instagram, but it’s actually really hard to create quality content. Working a full-time job (especially during the winter months), I’m unable to get any shots with natural light during the week. This means ALL of my content for my timeline page is done on the weekends. I spend hours upon hours deciding what I want to showcase, why I want to showcase it, and then of course, what I’m going to wear for the photo. I usually have to set up the self-timer on the camera just right and after that’s all done…onto the editing process etc. The more time I spend on Grape Chic, the less time I spend with my husband and working on myself at the gym. It took me a whole year to realize this, but all of that is WORTH something. Don’t let anyone or any company take advantage of you. What you are doing is hard work and your blog is successful because of it.
4. Wine Education is Important
I remember telling myself I’d start my website once I was enrolled in the WSET 2. I wanted to be more “legit” in what I was saying because there is A LOT of BS out there. To be honest I’m realizing the more I learn about wine, the less I actually know. That’s OK, but we as wine influencers have a responsibility to our followers to have our facts straight and must make a promise to keep educating ourselves over time. Your followers will know if you’re spewing nonsense, and it’s not a good look. Co-starting a tasting group has been not only beneficial for me in my pursuit of the WSET 3, but also for adding quality to my writing and content. Take the class. Go to the tasting. Read the book.
5. Stay True to Yourself & Know Your Audience
In Pre-School we learn there is only ONE of us in the world and that’s what makes us unique. Well, Mrs. Norton was right. Being your authentic self is far more valuable than giving your audience something false because that’s what you “think” they want to see. They’re there because of YOU and what you have to offer. I have also learned that my audience expects things from me, and if I want to keep going, I need to acknowledge what those things are. A beautiful post of a wine bottle will never be as successful as a post of me in there holding that wine bottle. My audience better relates and connects to the face behind the name, so it’s important for me to acknowledge this and make sure I’m creating content in that direction. Everyone’s audience is different and it takes time to get things figured out. At the end of the day, however, you also have to do what fulfills YOU because really, that’s why we’re here.