Sharon, 27, is a digital community manager. She stopped influencing two years ago.
“I started Instagramming because I thought it was a cool platform for sharing pictures—this was before influencer marketing was a thing.
At my peak, I had around 20,000 followers and averaged 1,700 to 2,000 ‘likes’ per post. I was paid around $300 to $500 per post, and sometimes, I’d luck out and get $800 to $1,000.
I’m grateful for all the sponsored concert tickets, beauty treatments, clothes, makeup and electronic devices that I received because they saved me a lot of money. But honestly, would one actually be needing, much less buying, this much stuff if they weren’t for free? No—they’re luxuries, not necessities.
Also, many think influencers don’t have KPIs to hit, or that we just post whatever we think is aesthetically-pleasing on our feed. But that’s far from the truth. The discount codes I gave out allowed companies to track how many people were ‘influenced’ by my post, so I had to deal with the pressure of keeping up.
I also hated being in the spotlight. When you’re an influencer in a place as small as Singapore, you’re judged all the time. If you have just one drink at a bar, they’ll say you’re an alcoholic; if you talk to one person of the opposite sex, they’ll call you a slut. Everything you do is amplified and taken out of context.
Plus, everything that goes on the web stays on the web, and you’ll never be able to erase your past. I’ve had partners ask why certain exes had more ‘air time’ on my feed, and I’ve had employers google me, only to find old, embarrassing photos of me that I had taken down but were still somehow available because, well, it’s the Internet. Don’t even get me started on the people who tried to pass off as me on Instagram, Facebook and Tinder.
Quitting Instagram was the most stressful yet liberating thing I’ve ever done. I felt free but also lonely in a way—like I’d just lost 20,000 friends. I definitely felt lost for a while. It’s also weird to see how quickly people forget about you. Life is way less stressful now as I don’t feel obligated to appear on-brand in my pictures or in public.
There’s nothing wrong with monetising your social media presence, but if your aim is to become the next Song of Style or Sincerely Jules, you need to know that a lot more happens behind the camera than you may realise.”