So You Want to Be An Influencer? Consider This First...

It looks like “the good life,” doesn’t it?

The influencers life. 

Wake up late, post a selfie next to your new Ferrari, then make money horsing around on social media with some trending product sent to you for free by some hot new company.

Cushy. Fun. Exciting.

Who wouldn’t want that life? 

I sure have thought about it. About how to get it. More than once.

Everywhere you turn, influencers seem to dominate the online conversation. Youtube celebrities push funny new videos and receive thousands of likes per second. Instagram characters publish a new post and, before you know it, you’re swiping up on their latest story to buy what they’re pitching.

Though I have no fucking clue what he does, it’s not hard to see myself as the next PewDiePie. It’s not unreasonable to see any influencers success and believe that you can have it too.

And guess what? You can.

You have more opportunities than ever to become a massive, influencing success through dozens of online platforms that reach (quite literally) over 40% of the world’s population. 

For the first time in history, you can get paid to promote a product that you’ve never used, developed by someone you’ve never met, sold by a company you can’t pronounce, and make a fortune doing it.

But this isn’t an article about how to do that.

This is an article about why you shouldn’t bother.

This is an article about why the world doesn’t need you to be an influencer, and what it needs from you instead.  

So You Want To Be An Influencer?

Influencers are everywhere. 

Some aren’t even human.

I follow @tuckerbudzyn, a golden retriever who has over 1.4 million followers.

Anyone (or dog) with a largish following who can sway their followers’ buying decisions could be considered one. And it doesn’t take much of a following anymore. Over 3 billion people are connected through various social media platforms, all of which carry the ability to persuade others through videos, pictures, words, and advertisements. With a paltry 10 thousand followers, you’ve got a strong chance of making some serious coin selling others’ products.

By and large, this is great. 

When we come to trust an influencer, like when we come to trust a friend, we have a new source of recommendations, usually from someone who has “been there, done that.”

Marketers are catching on. 

A new type of marketing called “influencer marketing” puts these trusted people at the center of their campaign. Marketers want to sell more for the companies they represent. Influencers want to make money. People like you and I trust certain influencers and buy from them. So marketers pay influencers to advertise products in their blog posts and videos.

Influencer A recommends product B. We buy. Company XYZ makes money and pays influencer. Everyone is happy. Rinse and repeat.

While simple in theory, becoming an influencer isn’t at all easy. Sure, some monumentally lucky people have attracted millions of followers with one viral post. But most influencers have been working for years to achieve their success. They’ve consistently created content, published articles, recorded videos, honed their personalities into someone entertaining, knowledgable, likable, and (most importantly) followable.

Which brings me to my point…

The World Doesn’t Need You To Be An Influencer

Though it sounds like the good life, the world doesn’t need you to be an influencer. 

The world doesn’t need you to amass followers. It doesn’t need you to sell random products.

It needs you to create value.  

You see, the influencers of the world bring value to people. Tucker Budzyn brings value to me through joyful entertainment. Matt D’Avella brings value to me by teaching me about minimalism. Tim Ferris brings value to me by asking the worlds highest-performers questions about their success. PewDiePie brings value through… actually, I don’t know what the fuck PewDiePie does. 

But bringing value isn’t enough. Someone has to create it.

My wife is a speech pathologist. She heads into work three days a week to help children and adults alike communicate. She has to be there in person to create value for them. She has to sit on the floor with her clients and steal their attention. She has to be present with them in their battle to communicate, helping guide them down the right path to win the war.  

While an influencer might bring value to their followers by mentioning my wife as the best damn speech pathologist on earth, she’s the one that has to do the work. She’s the one who must create value for her clients to succeed. 

Somebody has to provide the service. Somebody has to make the products. Someone has to manage the teams. Someone has to do the work. 

Without the work, there is no value to curate. 

Without the effort in creating and making, who are you really going to help? 

Be Like An Influencer While Making and Creating

The world may not need you to be an influencer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them, or shouldn’t. 

Influencers are popular and successful for a reason, and those reasons hold the key to your helping more people with the products or services you provide. 

An influencer, for example, is uniquely different than most others. Matt D’Avella focuses on living a better life through minimalism. Tucker Budzyn brings you joy with puppy charm. Tim Ferriss focuses on living a better life with tips, tricks, and tactics of world-class minds. PewDiePie? I still don’t know what the fuck he does.

When someone is following Tucker, it’s because they love dogs. They get a kick out of seeing a cute dog do silly things. They are likely a dog-person. And so, when they see an awesome dog product advertised by Tucker’s mom, a healthy percentage of them will buy. 

When someone is following Tim Ferris, it’s because they’re looking for that next level of performance. They can’t get on the phone with world-class chefs, musicians, entrepreneurs themselves so they dial into Tim’s podcast to hear him ask questions for two hours that might give them some insight into how to be their best self. 

Tucker is different. Tim Ferris is different. Matt D’Avella and (I assume) PewDiePie are different. 

Most influencers are different. They are unique. It’s part of what landed them their huge following.

How are you different? How is what you do unique among other creators and makers out there? Why would someone buy from you vs. anyone (and everyone) else? Is it your personality or the features of your product? Something else? How will you communicate this to the world?

Influencers have these questions answered clearly. Because of that, they don’t have to sell. They just have to talk to their audience, their customers, and so long as they don’t destroy the trust they have with their customers, their customers will continue buying. 

Why is this important? 

Because people don’t like being sold, they like recommendations. They want recommendations from trusted friends, family, colleagues, advisors, influencers. When they hear a sale, they put up their defenses. When they hear a recommendation, they tune in and buy.

Learn from influencers, how they differentiate themselves, how they build an audience, how they market their products. Then, take that information to help more people with that which makes you different. 

The World Needs Makers, Creators, You

Fame looks fun.

Success looks great. 

But comparing your current situation to others is a recipe for feelings of guilt (that you’re not hustling enough), inadequacy (that you’re not good enough), and demotivation (that you’ll never make enough no matter how hard you try).

And you are hustling enough. 

You are good enough. 

You will make a difference.

If that’s the only thing you take away from this post—that you shouldn’t feel guilty, inadequate, or demotivated because some influencer has more than you—then consider your time reading this post well-spent.

But if you can take away something else, take away this:

The world doesn’t need you to be an influencer. The world needs workers, difference makers, creators. Instead of dreaming about becoming an influencer, get inspired and motivated by one. One day, your influence may be big enough, deep enough, scaled enough to call yourself an influencer too. Until then, focus on building, creating, and helping others. 

Go accomplish your mission. 

Help those whose life you can touch. 

Work on what matters.

That’s how all but the astronomically lucky influencers got their start and built their audience anyways.

About the Author


Mike Mehlberg


I help high-achieving entrepreneurs organize their brain and schedule so they can organize their life and business.

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