Spilling the Tea on Influencers
Ok, this is not clickbait. But to set the record straight, this is not a blog post on drama between influencers because I am not about the drama llama. And honestly, I have fantastic relationships with my friends on Instagram! They're all super supportive over there.
Instead I'm writing this blog post to shed some light on the scams that influencers can fall into. If you're new to the influencing world this blog post is for you. And if you're not an influencer, this blog post is to spill the tea on the shadier side of working on the 'gram.
When I first started out not too long ago (a little over a year) I decided to purchase a domaine name. I paid for it for a year just to test the waters to see if I would stick with it. A year later, I get a letter mailed TO MY HOUSE saying that I had to register my domaine name under the Canadian law and to pay $60 bucks to reserve my domaine name so I don't lose it.
The letter looked really legitimate, it had a convincing letterhead and pretended to be from the government under a "Domain Registry of Canada" title. There is NO SUCH department but this scam has been going on for years, I saw someone post about it in 2012, which means it has worked for over the past eight years! Be weary of these scams and always double check by doing your research before you give anybody your personal information.
I almost fell for this scam myself because my domaine was about to expire and they knew my name and address. I'm glad I researched before I became one of the thousands who get scammed like this.
Another scam on the gram that influencers can fall for is through emails! Scammers will propose a work partnership and make it sound very beneficial for you. However, be weary of the links they provide!
A tricky thing that hackers do is to get you to click on a link to see their shop and it would link to a page asking you to sign into Instagram so you can view their content. The webpage will look like an Instagram sign in page, but it's actually a phishing site meant to get you to log in so they can have your username and password.
This is when they gain access to your account and they may hold it hostage until you pay a sum of money to get all your hard work back.
For those who are not influencers, you have to understand it takes a long time for most of us to garner our followers and to build a relationship and reputation on the platform in order for us to work with brands. I have seen many of my friends pay the hackers or someone else to break back into their account because it would be easier to do that than to start all over again.
I have received quite a few fishy emails in the short of amount of time I've been an influencer. I've learned to Google the brands myself and to cross check the names of the people who sign off on the emails. Sometimes it is very obvious because the grammar is all off and the email is sent from a hotmail account (nothing wrong with that but it's always odd to see a big corporation sending an email outside of their company account.)
This is a big category because there are a lot of ways that people steal images on the internet. Here are my thoughts on that.
This is a big one, when people steal our images. It happens a lot to myself and to my friends.
I am so appreciative and love when people repost my home with credit because this is how I gain more eyeballs on my home and hopefully those people will check out my page if they like what they see. This is how a lot of influencers grow a bigger audience.
Mind you, I know there are some people who do not like it when others repost their work. It is important to ask for permission in case the owner of the picture does not want to be reposted. This is just common courtesy.
However, when someone steals our pictures without crediting us and gain traction on their own feed, they are stealing our work and gaining all the benefits without having to do anything themselves.
I have seen my pictures gain tens of thousands of likes on big platforms who have a huge audience. When there is no proper credit (aka no mention of my handle in the caption) I gain nothing but the account that posts it gets all the credit.
This is the least of my worries when it comes to image stealing because it is after all just a picture. It's not so bad, right? Not always!
When people steal my work for monetary gain. I have had instances where people will steal my image on Instagram and repost it on Pinterest and link it to affiliate links (a link to purchase the products in the picture that gives commission to the person who posts it) to products I have used. The picture went viral on Pinterest.
The way Pinterest works is different from Instagram. When you click on the picture it will lead you to a website, blog or something else. I am happy to be included if I am credited properly. This was not the case. My name was not mentioned anywhere and just took you to an affiliate page with links directing users to purchase the products you see.
The user who posted my picture has over a million impressions on their Pinterest page. I don't know how many people bought the products in the image but if they did it through a picture of my home and I also have the same products linked with links that gives me commission it feels like the stole from me. I don't know how you feel, but now it feels like there is a dollar amount attached to it as well.
It just doesn't seem right to have someone profit off my work without my permission or without my knowledge and be given zero credit for it.
I have had my pictures stolen from me and reposted on shops and brands who make it seem like I purchased off their website or from their brand. I find this very problematic even if they credit me.
It worries me when I see my home posted elsewhere and affiliated with them because I have not used their services. I never want people to think that I have worked with someone or bought something from a vendor I have never used. My reputation is on the line.
I pride myself in giving genuine reviews and sharing things I have tried and truly loved.
Here is a case study, the image you see on the left shows a gallery wall made out of calendars. It was a fun and inexpensive way I wanted to share so others can achieve this look for less.
When a shop tells people to purchase their artwork from them using my picture to get a similar look, they are tricking those people into thinking that they have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of art here when all I spent was $25 bucks on a calendar. That makes me uneasy and it isn't right.
Plus, I do get paid to work with brands who sell artwork who pay me money to style and share my experiences. (Shout out to those brands because they are the real MVPs) If they want me to style and work with them to create an image they can use, they would have to pay me the same rates that I give to other brands who pay for my work (and Janet's, my photographer, in this case too!)
Sadly, I know of friends who have their homes and photos used to the point where people will photoshop their products into their pictures and use it on their sites as if they've used their products. This is our full-time job and the means of which we support ourselves and our families. So when vendors do that, it really does hurt us. They're saying they love our aesthetic but they don't want to pay us for the work.
Worse yet, I've had friends who has their kids' faces visible in the pictures that these shops will photoshop on. That's on another level of wrong in my opinion.
When brands repost my images without my consent but give me credit (my handle is visible in captions and I am tagged in the photo.) I am very uneasy because I do not want to be affiliated with some products out there.
There is no judgement in the products people promote. However, I do want to control where my images are being used. It is my reputation and my pictures after all.
The picture on the right is one that has garnered a lot of love on the internet. I have had many big brands repost this, mostly without asking me.
I cannot keep track of where my images go when posts are not tagged. (They credit me by writing "@thekwendyhome" in the caption but that does not show up on my feed.) While most of these reposts are beneficial to me in terms of gaining potential followers, sometimes these brands are selling products that I would never dream of using.
I've had this picture reposted on feeds that sell dieting pills. While I do not have a problem with people who use these products, I do not want to be associated with it because I do not use it personally.
When big companies use my images because their products are in the shot but I did not get paid to work with them. I love tagging brands in my pictures because it helps people find sources quickly! I also love it when the tagged brands take note of my feed and connect with me because they like my work and want to work with me.
However, when a brand does not ask for permission to repost my images but do so anyways, it kinda sucks because it's like I just worked for free.
Mind you, a lot of big brands are really mindful now a days of this and do ask for permission! And if you're an influencer, you have the opportunity to open a dialogue to potentially work with them on a brand deal where you will get paid to promote their products. This is a win win scenario.
You have the power to ask the brand to take down images or better yet, to start working on a partnership with them. If you're an influencer, don't be shy, talk to them! Most likely, they are either unaware that they reposted your picture without consent and sometimes they are more than happy to work with you to create similar paid content. You got this.
In conclusion, I wanted to write this blog post to warn my influencer friends of potential scams that you should keep an eye out on. And if you are not an influencer, this is just some of the headaches and heartaches that influencers have to deal with.
I hope you found this article enlightening and I would be happy to hear your thoughts and experiences!
Thanks for reading!