The life of an influencer can look so glamorous. Posting nice, edited photos; creating your own work schedule; getting huge brand deals worth serious money – we all know there’s a lot more to it behind the scenes, but it all sounds pretty good on the surface. Those are things I’ve never wanted, though. This might seem a bit surprising if you know me, as I have a few hundred thousand followers on TikTok, where I talk about solo traveling, staying in hostels, and being a late bloomer. But while I’m deeply grateful for each soul that follows me, and for the opportunities with which having such a following has presented me, I don’t actually want to be an influencer. Here’s why.
I’d Rather Make New Connections than Gain New Followers
I’m a solo traveler who’s visited 20 countries and taken 16 solo travel trips. On every single one of those trips I’ve stayed in hostels, because my primary reason for traveling is to meet people. I love having conversations and forming connections with people I might not have met otherwise.
TikTok has given me the ability to make those connections and hear stories about other people’s cultures, as well – I love that I don’t have to wait until I’m on a trip in a new country to cultivate community.
As I said, I like to talk about traveling, but I also like to talk about the fact that I’m a Late Bloomer — someone who is older and has little to no romantic experience. Before I got on TikTok, I was positive I was the only person in the world who was approaching 30 and still a virgin. Then I made a TikTok video talking about my lack of experience. This video got over 340,000 views, and suddenly people were reaching out to tell me they felt the same way I did.
This video also brought in 10,000 new followers to my page and for the first time, I felt normal in regards to my dating experiences. It allowed me to start a series that I simply call “Late Bloomer Series” where I detail my feelings and experiences. I got such positive feedback that I started a Facebook group for Late Bloomers that now has over 3600 members. I think it’s amazing that I got to see my content come to life in the form of real people sharing their real experiences about being late bloomers, and forming friendships through something I made out of pain. It’s so beautiful to see.
I Don’t Care About Likes
The best piece of advice I got was from my brother when I had just started my TikTok journey. He told me not to care about the views or the likes, and instead to be consistent with my content. Rather than tracking my stats, I should focus on posting twice a day, every day, and making sure the content is good, useful, and something I can be proud of. The views and likes will come if they come, he told me, but you want to show people that you have a body of work you’re proud of and can stand behind.
And so I make content that I want to see. I offer tips for solo traveling, I give hostel tours, I show people how to explore the world alone and grow comfortable in their own skin. Even if no one else watches my videos, I will (I watch them at least 10 times before and after posting). I feel like I have a loyal audience base because I’m not out here clout chasing and just making content for the sake of going viral. I make content that I myself, as a consumer, want to see, and I do it in an authentic way that people can relate to. I don’t feel the need to put on a full face of makeup or get all dressed up with a ring light just to make a video. In my content, I ask that you take me as I am, however I am. And I ask that you do the same for the world. Let people surprise you. Let people blow your mind. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from TikTok it’s that there’s a community out there for everyone. You belong.
I Just Want to Have Fun!
Yes, you heard that right: TikTok is very entertaining for me. I absolutely love it. I sit on my very uncomfortable couch with my lavender wallpaper in the background and I talk to my phone, and I’m connected to thousands of people who can relate to me or are intrigued by my experiences. I enjoy editing videos of hostel tours or trying to figure out how I can incorporate my niche into a current trend. And hey, I’m good at it. But I feel like putting a monetary value on my content as a way to earn a living would take the joy out of hitting that record button. Sure, I’m happy to partner up with brands I love for a few videos, but full-time? That’s a lot of work. I don’t mind working a 9-to-5 job and having the stability that comes with it, and then doing TikTok on the side. It’s been a little over a year since my adventure on this app started, and even though it has come with a lot of ups and downs, I still find so much joy in it. We’ve had a tough few years going through the pandemic, so any ounces of joy we can squeeze out of our day should be cherished.
None of this is to say I don’t have respect for influencers. But I’ve never set out to be one. I got on TikTok as an avenue to get closer to my bigger dreams and goals, and it’s working. I don’t plan to be on this platform forever, but the community of people who’ve joined me has altered my life in a way I couldn’t have foreseen, and now I’m just along for the ride.