Humans are a complex social species filled with all sorts of complicated relationships. We form these relationships with all the people around us and we adapt our behavior — sometimes more, sometimes less — to best suit the situation. There are societal and cultural norms that we generally adhere to, like how we line up to pay for our groceries at the supermarket or how we greet new people at a formal setting with a firm handshake.
When you were younger and still going to school, you were likely all too familiar with high school cliques. You had your “cool kids” and you had your “nerds” and you had the “jocks” and you had the stoners or whatever else. And most of us tried to fit in. We tried to find a group with reasonably similar interests (and maybe similar demographics) and we tried to fit in. We wanted to feel like we belonged and that feeling can extend well into adulthood.
Keeping Up with the Cool Kids
You might tell yourself that you want to get the latest iPhone because you’re infatuated with a particular feature, but the truth is maybe you just want to “fit in” with your other techie friends.
You might tell yourself that you want to get this job or live in this neighborhood or drive this car because of whatever reason, but maybe the truth there is also that you just want to “fit in.”
You want to feel like you belong. And the same is true when it comes to blogging, influencer marketing and making money online too.
The compulsion is to adhere to some pre-conceived notion of what any of this really means, because you think that’s the best path to success… but if everyone did exactly the same thing and was exactly the same person, there’s no reason why any company would want to work with you over anyone else. You all just blend in together.
Instead, if you want to find success with your own online business, particularly in an age of social currency, the key is to differentiate yourself and dare to be different.
Zag when they zig, not just to be different, but because you’ve always been a “zig” kind of person. Buy when they sell, turn left when they go right, start your own business when they hunt for a new job. Dare to be different. Make friends, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean you have to be all matching peas in a pod.
If we all had to fit into the same mold of what it meant to be a successful online influencer, we’d likely all have to be young, fit, conventionally attractive Caucasian women who enjoy beaches, fashion and fancy food. That’s what the statistics tell us.
But if you fit into that exact influencer profile, you’re going to have a harder time separating yourself from the crowd.
I’m Not Your Typical Influencer
Maybe it’s for the best that I am now outside of the 25-34 age group (that makes up 75% of influencers). Maybe it’s for the best that I’m not female (who make up 95% of influencers). It means that I’m more of a unique case and this can make for a more compelling pitch should I choose to approach a brand of interest. And indeed, 79% of influencers say that they plan on creating more branded content, because 44% of them say they want to share a passion.
In the last few years, a great area of interest for me has been parenting. Fatherhood has completely changed my life, including my professional career. What’s curious is that I am almost the only Asian dad in a crowd of Caucasian moms. I’m good friends with many of these moms, but I’m not exactly sure I “fit in” with them. And that’s okay.
It’s not just about raw reach. It’s about demonstrating how you can provide real value and charging what you’re really worth. And even if you don’t have any interest in branded or sponsored content at all, it’s still in your best interest to stand out as a blogger. You want to get noticed.
And to get noticed, you have to stop fitting in.