The Cost of Influence: Creator Burnout, Setting Boundaries, & Retention – Episode 4

Last updated on
August 17, 2022
James Nord

Welcome to Negronis with Nord! Today’s episode focuses on an important topic: the cost of influence. James covers setting boundaries, taking care of your mental health, tips for retention, and more.

Each episode will focus on your most pressing questions about the space. You can submit your questions here.

This episode includes:

  • Register for the ‘How to Be a Best-in-Class Partner to Black Creators’ here.
  • A viewer question about Reels vs. Photos: What is your opinion on how we should realistically adapt?
  • Today’s topic: The Cost of Influence, creating boundaries, and managing creator burnout
  • How to make your career sustainable
  • Setting goals for the future: How do you want to feel in 5 years?
  • Client retention tips & an exercise from James
  • Plus, James’ thoughts on Valentine’s Day in New York City

We have a webinar/micro-conference

James Nord: Before we kick things off today, one, February 22nd, 1:00 PM EST, we have a webinar. I know, you hear 'webinar' and you think, yawn, but you also know our webinars slap. They're amazing. I prefer to call them a micro-conference. We are having a micro-conference with DonYe, who is on the last episode, who you know is amazing. It is all about how to be the best brand partner to Black creators year around. There's an intense and understandable focus on Black creators during February for Black History month. We are creating a bunch of content around this. You are working with Black creators ideally constantly. DonYe is going to be talking with some other members of the Fohr staff and talking about some of the dos and don'ts in working with the Black community and how to be most effective throughout the year in partnerships with Black creators. It is going to be incredible. Super excited. We'll put a link up somewhere. You can register, we will see you there. Okay, now let's get started.

Viewer question about Reels: How to realistically adapt?

James: Welcome. Negronis with Nord episode number four. We got a full house today. I got Tim in his normal spot. I got Haley in her normal spot, and Aaron, who edits them, is making a guest appearance. I have honestly just been sitting here shooting the sh*t, and this is Negroni number two, because I've just been hanging out with my friends, but we're getting into the show. We're going to start with an easy one this week. There's a question about reels. "How do I switch from photos to reels?" I know we've talked about that a couple times in these episodes, and I think I'm just going to say it more succinctly and move on to other things. There is no future as a creator that doesn't involve video.

If you are somebody that is like, "I don't really like video. I don't need to do it," I think looking five years down the road, there's no future. It doesn't exist. And that's kind of crazy thing to say, but the platforms have made it abundantly clear that video is what they value. A couple of years ago, we were talking about captions and writing long captions as a way to kind of get past the algorithm. That has translated from a photo with a minute-long caption to a minute-long TikTok that walks you through the same thing. You can still translate that. You can take that story that you were going to tell in your caption, but you have to tell it in video now. And that's, again, frustrating if you are like me and you're an old timer on the internet and everything has been photo based. It feels like somebody's pulling the rug out from under you. But, do you want to be relevant in any way or have a career in five years? You need to do video.

The Cost of Influence: Creator Burnout & Setting Boundaries

James: Okay, that moves us into question two. It's the stuff we've kind of danced around, but I want to address it head on and it's something that at Fohr, we are going to be talking about a lot more, which is influencer-creator burnout. The cost of influence. We have been seeing more and more influencers who are leaving Instagram, who are quitting what they do, who are shutting down different platforms. "I can't do my YouTube anymore." "I can't do TikTok." "I can't deal with Twitter." Whatever it is, we are seeing more and more burnout. As a creator, one, you have to take care of yourself. You have to create a sustainable work day for yourself. You have to create boundaries.

Even if you're working from home, which most influencers probably are, create a separate place in your house that is where you work. Not all of us have places where we can have an office or something separately, but then have a routine that gets you to be like, "I have started work," and then a routine that says, "I have stopped work." I see all these influencers on Insta stories at one in the morning being like, "Oh, I'm still answering emails. I'm still working." I understand hustle porn and that whole culture of like, "I'm working all the time." In spurts, that can be effective. It's not really a sustainable way to work. And I think that the first thing you need to do is set your own boundaries with the hours that you work, with the hours that you were on this app, whichever one it is, with when you'll answer a customer or a client's email or not.

If a client emails you at 9:00 PM, unless the house is on fire and there is something totally urgent, your post is supposed to go live at 8:00 AM and they need you to not have it go live, do not answer that email. If one of my employees emails me at 10:00 PM, there's honestly no way I'm going to answer it. That's not working hours. You do not have to be available for people all the time. You need to push back against your followers, your clients, and especially yourself. I don't envy influencers. I think that influencers get a lot of shit for their jobs being easy for something that people view to be simple. But, I think that there is a real, tangible, and scary impact that doing this job has over years. And I am seeing my friends who have done it for 10 or 15 years now, and it's starting to really, really impact them.

And some of them are willing to walk away from huge amounts of money and say like, "Is this even worth it," or "Am I damaging myself so completely that I am willing to walk away from $300,000 a year?" That seems crazy, but that is a choice that people are making. If you're starting out and you've got all that energy and excitement, that's great. You should channel that energy into this. The way I worked on this business six months before it launched is different than six years after it launched, is different than now, nine years after it launched, and that relationship changes and it should. I encourage you to figure out ways to make it sustainable, because think about doing what you're doing 20 years from now, because, again, you could be. God willing, you are.

If you love what you do, hopefully, I could do this job. I love it. And I feel like I've set enough boundaries and I have a balance and I have enough passion for this job that I could do this for 20 more years. I'm nine into it, and I feel more energized than I did the day I started. If you can't through yes to that, then I think you need to really go through and take stock of what you're doing and change those practices. Fire shitty clients. You have a brand that pays you good money, but they are terrible to work with? Fire them. A client's money is not more valuable than my employee's mental health. If we work with a client that is toxic, we stop working with them. Do the same. You'll find someone else. You'll make space for a client that is better.

Do you have a subset of your following that you feel like is asking too much of you? Explain there's only so much you can give. I am worried about what it does to your mind when you turn yourself into a product and you sell yourself every day. And just think it's something that we need to talk about. It's something that at Fohr, we're going to dig into a lot more. I'd love to talk to influencers about this. So if you're struggling with this, I'd love for you to reach out, james@fohr.co. I just want to hear more about influencer burnout and about where y'all are so we can have a conversation about this.

The problem is when influencers talk about it, nobody wants to hear about it because if you're a successful influencer, they think, "Well, you're rich. I don't care." And people equate that success and say like, "You have lost the right to complain because you have achieved financial success," which is not true. Yes, you have to understand the privilege that you have and be able to have some self-awareness around that and realize that your problems probably are not insurmountable, doesn't mean they're not real.

Setting 5-Year Goals

James: The last thing I'll say in this, and again, we're going to talk more about this. When people talk about the future, they'll say like, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" And I think it's really hard thing to answer, and influencers might say, "Oh, I'd love to have my own brand." "I'd love to be doing this." "I want to work with Chanel." "I want to be sitting front row at the Dior show." A question that's not asked as much but maybe is more important is "How do you want to feel in five years?" "What does it feel like in five years?" "If right now your life feels overwhelming and hectic, does it still feel like that? Or, does it feel a bit more calm?"

A question that's not asked as much but maybe is more important is "How do you want to feel in five years?"

"Do you feel like you're in control of your revenue stream and your life and the work that you do? Do you feel like you're in control of your day, or that you're in service of other people?" I think you need to answer the question of how you want to feel in five years, and then try and build from there. "I feel right now like I live my life in service of my followers and my brand partners that I have no control over what I do every day. My life is too much on display. And in five years, I want to feel like I still have a connection with that audience but that it's more sustainable, that I get to choose what I do with my days and I'm in control of that. And that I have a more healthy relationship with the platforms that I am monetizing," and work towards that. And the rest of it will fall into place. The what you do then supports how you want to feel, which I think is maybe an easier way to kind of get into that really difficult and big question.

Retention Exercise

James: We'll close it out with it's the beginning of the year-ish and I'm going to talk about my favorite thing that nobody talks about in influencer marketing, which is retention. Little exercise for you to do. Open up a Google doc, write down in an Excel every single brand you worked with. In one column, the date that you worked with them. In another, how many times you worked with them. If it was paid or gifted, the amount that you made from them. That list, that should be the foundation of where you make your money this year. Let's say you did 50 brand partnerships last year. Why go out and find 50 new partners? That's really hard and negotiate with them and go back and forth. Retention is key. Find those brands that you've already worked with. Ideally, you've done a great job, and go back to them. Retention.

50-70% of what you made last year, you should make again from those same clients.

And I think when you make that list, you'll say, "Oh, whatever happened to them?" Reach back out. If you're a little sneakier, do another post for them. Throw it up in a story, and then reach out. "Hey, I was just thinking about y'all. I used this product again. I loved it so much. What do you have going on?" Retention. 50-70% of what you made last year, you should make again from those same clients. Deep relationships with clients, working with them, the same clients over years, is going to get easier than working with new clients. Firing the clients that you don't want to work with. Retaining the ones you do want to work with. You have control over this stuff. Go after the ones you want to build relationships with, especially if they've already paid you. Lock it down, lock down the year-long partnership. That is your clearest path to making more money this year.

Cheers, and thanks for watching.

Psst… You can still watch all 202 A Drink with James episodes here. Binge it – we dare you!

And make sure to subscribe to the Fohr YouTube channel to get notified of new episodes.

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