Portsmouth bloggers reveal how they blag free clothes and holidays through Instagram
Getting free clothes and being paid to go on holiday isn’t what social media used to be about.
Staying connected with family and friends across the globe and posting funny cat pictures was what the internet used to consist of, circa 2004.
Fast forward to 2019 and being a social media influencer is a job industry in its own right. But what is it? They are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic and can earn millions of pounds, and followers, online.
Currently making her mark is 21-year-old Jade Dunn from Portsmouth. The former Springfield School student says it is like ‘living in a dream world’ .
‘Who wouldn’t want free clothes sent to them?’ she laughs.
Jade began her career as a social media influencer by promoting products and she is now the proud owner of an Instagram account (a photosharing site) with 11,000 followers.
She says: ‘I started making money through Instagram a few years ago with a company called Nu Skin where I would post pictures with their products and sell them on.
‘I think a lot of people use social media to make a bit of extra money nowadays but after a while I wanted to branch out and use different brands.’
‘Getting 11,000 followers has really opened doors for me and shows how much companies value how many followers you have.’
Her nine-to-five job as a receptionist means she spends her days answering phones and organising diaries. But her evenings and weekends are all about getting the right angle and opening package after package of new clothes.
She says: ‘I have now started doing posts with clothing brands like Femme Luxe and basically get sent free clothes and then post pictures (of me) in them.’
Snaps from her holiday to Bali, enjoying giant pink mugs of hot chocolate smothered in whipped cream and her latest outing to Southsea with a cocktail in hand are the type of posts on Jade’s Instagram profile.
She explains: ‘It has grown really organically and I only post a few times a week. I just wanted it to be me and not try to be anyone else because I think you have to be unique to stand out online and there is nothing more unique than you.’
Out of her friendship group, Jade says she is the only one who is really interested in making a career out of social media but knows the market is saturated.
She says: ‘It is so easy nowadays for anyone to start a social media account and post pictures but I think it definitely takes more work than people think.
‘There is also the downside of social media and I don’t like seeing my (younger) brother having to grow up with all the negativity and pressure. Sometimes I am glad I got to have my childhood without it.’
Jade is now starting up her own eyelashes business and hopes her social media following will help her business venture thrive.
‘I think social media is so important now no matter what you are doing. Whether you are just marketing yourself like a social media influencer or you have your own business, having that online presence is key.’
Jade’s ultimate dream is to be able to travel more. She says: ‘I went to Bali last year and it would be amazing to explore that part of the world as my job.’
Her dream is the reality of Southsea couple Graeme Robertson and Theodora Van De Pol.
The pair, who both studied international business at the University of Portsmouth before opening up their own interior design business, left their old lives behind last year and started YouTube channel Babe, Where’s My Passport which has nearly 80,000 subscribers. The couple make money from subscriptions.
Graeme says: ‘We did not expect so many followers within this time frame and we have definitely crushed anyone’s thought that it’s too late to start a blog or YouTube channel.
‘There have been some amazing moments – from swimming with turtles, hiking to secret waterfalls in Brunei, and riding camels in the Indian desert.’
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Theodora, originally from The Netherlands, says: ‘Our relationship was also really tested in those first few months as we had put everything on the line and it wasn’t going the way we expected to begin with.’
Graeme adds: ‘Becoming a vlogger (a video blogger) has definitely become the ‘in’ thing to do recently but many people underestimate the work needed to make it a successful business.
‘Our advice would be to start for the right reasons, not for money or status, but because you are passionate about your niche.
‘The potential for influencers to have a thriving career in their own niche has never been so big.’
To fund plane tickets to Indonesia, cocktails on beaches in Phuket and stays at The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong, this vlogging couple post adverts and brand collaboration on their social media.
Their goal is to reach 500,000 YouTube subscribers, start a family and create videos around the world with their children.
Theodora, 30, adds: ‘If we could generate enough sustainable income from our channel that we can start a family it would be a huge achievement for us.
‘But we pinch ourselves when we realise that the white sands and crystal clear waters is our office and bikinis and shorts are our uniform.’
You can argue that it is a shallow existence, but who wouldn’t want to spending a lifetime travelling around wearing free clothes?
Now, where is my passport…
What is social media influencing?
The rise of the internet over the past 30 years has been fast and furious. Social media may only have been around for 15 years, but its popularity has soared.
People with accounts on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with thousands of likes, followers and subscribers have the opportunity to promote brands and products to influence what people buy.
Top bloggers and vloggers can command thousands of pounds per post or video.
British YouTube blogger Zoe Sugg has nearly five million subscribers to her channel Zoella and reportedly earns up to £12,000 per Instagram post to her 10 million followers. Celebrities are also in on the act with reality star Kylie Jenner cashing in $1m per post.
For smaller bloggers, discounts and free gifts are the rewards.
The inspiring side
While many are taking to social media to make their fame and fortune, for others it gives them a chance to find vital support.
For Jasmine Goodall, it was a lifeline to a support community after finding out she had stage four high grade B cell Non Hodgkin Lymphoma.
The 25-year-old, from Fareham, says: ‘I went on Instagram and there were so many people my age who were going through the same thing and it makes you realise you are not alone.’
Jasmine had suffered months of headaches, severe stomach pain and exhaustion before getting her diagnosis last year.
She said: ‘In a strange way it was a relief because I finally knew what was wrong with me and my doctors said if I had left it a few more weeks it could have been a very different story.’
Jasmine was referred to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham and underwent six bouts of chemotherapy all while documenting her experience on her blog, Jasmine’s Quarter Life Crisis.
In one post she wrote: ‘So here I am, six rounds of chemotherapy under my belt. Six weeks of hell endured. Six weeks I never want to relive. Six weeks of terribleness that I survived. ‘No one gives you a medal for these things, after all it’s a matter of life or death. ‘But I’ve given myself a mental gold star for effort.’
Jasmine finished her cancer treatment in January and earlier this month she got the news that she is cancer free.
To read her inspirational blog, go to jasminesquarterlifecrisis. com