Episode 017: The Power of Positioning Yourself As An Influencer (If You Want To)

 

One of the tracks of last summer's conference — The Exponential Designpreneur — focused exclusively on the growth of designers, beyond design. With that a lot of the content was crafted around other avenues of income & visibility, such as personal branding & establishing yourself as an influencer within (and outside of) the design community. 

Translation: being an influencer.

That was the beginning of the makings of this show. That was my “aha moment” that more of us than not get that the world of design is changing, especially in the digital space. Together we’ve embraced the idea that you’re either disrupting an old business model or you’re the one being disrupted. 

If you registered for that track and/or you’re listening to this show, then I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re ready to take risks and take your passion as a designpreneur to new heights!

In this episode, I’m going to talk about what it can look like being not only a designer in the industry, but an influencer in the industry. 

 
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A couple of years ago, an “influencer” could be simply defined as someone who influences someone else’s decisions. Literally. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, however, with the rise of influencer marketing/social media marketing, an “influencer” is more accurately defined as:

an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience
— Influencer Marketing Hub *

Influencers can be celebrities, bloggers, and/or industry thought leaders…

like you! 

As an interior designer, you’re potentially already influencing your audience — through your project portfolio, design tips, and other social media content — in addition to the clients you work with because of your qualifications and experience. 

While you are a designer, you’re also an entrepreneur , so you also understand that nothing is truly scarce and that the new technology is creating abundance in our industry. To that end, you’re an innovator and you're seeing the bigger picture, not only as a designer, not only as an entrepreneur, but now as an influencer. On & offline, the world is ripe for opportunity and you’re capable of achieving more now than ever with strategic partnerships & intentional planning.

So how does that play into the role of you being a designer? 

If you’re an online interior designer or e-designer, the digital space is already your playground, but even as an in person and on site designers, you notice that the world is slowly moving everything online. That said, an argument can be made we’re all already influencers — with your instagram story or facebook live or blog post or whatever you’ve put out into the interwebs for your audience to consume…if you’ve moved someone to change their thought or take some kind of action, you’re an influencer. 

Now let’s think bigger. 

Let’s think in terms of moving even more people. 

Let’s think about the aspirational differences you can be making in the lives of hundreds, thousands of people. 

Let’s think about that influencer — the one that’s a personal brand, the one that’s a designer, but also a brand ambassador, the one that’s known for their presence as much as they are for their work.

Is that the kind of influencer you want to be?

If yes, great — time to get to work. 

If no, also great — keep doing what you’re doing. 

The difference between the two, is that while latter is a bit more “passive”, the former requires more than just design work from you, the designer. 

I know, the nerve!

Think about some of your favorite influencers in any industry. They aren’t just what their craft is. Micro- or macro- (which is really just about the numbers) what are they doing that you’re not?


Creating Content

Influencers can be celebrities, creators, and/or industry experts, but what nearly all have in common is that they are consistently producing content for their audiences. You may hear content and think a blog post, however, it is all encompassing — blogging, podcasting, social media posts, webinars, email marketing. 

Influencers are finding ways to connect with potential influencees (if it’s not a word, let’s pretend it is today) with more than just their website. 

With so many platforms at the ready, in addition to your site, you can be disseminating your influence by adding another layer of content to your repertoire. Not all, but you can definitely lean into the ones that highlight your expertise.

If you listened our very first episode, then you’ll remember I talked all about determining if your blog was working for you or against you. Don’t add something to you plate that’ll only slow you down. If blogging isn’t for you, try your hand at Instagram stories, Facebook lives, or YouTube videos. You can utilize email marketing, and as you grow that list, cultivate a community of loyal fans, ready to receive your influence. 

In addition to establishing your presence, creating content bolsters your credibility. 

Moral of the story: content is king.  


Getting Personal

Influencers don’t just show up on your feed, tell you to do something, and then you do it. That’s not what’s happening by any stretch of the imagination — help us all if that was the case! Instead, your influence is a direct result of how you connect with your audience — your authenticity, relatability, vulnerability, and personality. 

As the saying goes, “people buy from people” and influencer marketing is a testament to that. 

Does this mean you not have to strip your privacy barriers & share your entire life with the world? No, not if you don’t want to. What it means is that you can no longer talk at people. You have to talk to them and connect with them on some level. 

As a parent. 

As a newlywed. 

As an entrepreneur. 

As a minority. 

As a creative.

Wherever you know your audience is in their life, if there are parallels within your own life, meet them there. 


Diversifying Craft

We know that you love design, specifically interior design. But what else? That can manifest in so many different ways as a business model but also when it comes to flexing your influence. 

When I think about many of the interior design influencers I follow, it is very seldom for their designs. 

They give great business advice and so they’ve created courses. 

They excel at creating DIY projects and with that, they have a thriving boutique. 

They are amazing storytellers and have the published books to prove it. 

They have phenomenal personalities and can be found on some of your favorite home shows. 

They’ve taken their craft as an interior designer and diversified it, finding new and exciting ways to profit and serve. No one said you can’t do both, not if you’re smart. 

While there is absolutions nothing wrong with solely being a service provider, in the same way that we diversify our service offerings, exploring being an influencer also means exploring alternative ways to share your talents. 

Everything from brand ambassadorships to speaking engagements to licensed product lines can all be ways that you’re leveraging your skill and expertise as an interior designer, in addition to providing one on one client services. 

And after playing around with a few ideas, you might find that you excel at one far more than the other, opening you up to a whole new world of possibilities. 


Establishing A Community

I want to preface this by saying “community” is not to be confused with “followers” because the two are not synonymous, although often (and haphazardly) used interchangeably. 

Your followers are just that — people who hit the follow button on your social network platform. THere’s no real connection between you and them, and they’re just a number. 

Your community, on the other hand, are the people that not only follow you, but engage with you. They want what you’re giving, whether it’s your free advice or paid service. They are looking for your help, for your expertise, for your personality. They will cheer you on, buy your things, and tell on their friends about you. They’re the ones tagging you in posts, replying your emails, and commenting on everything you share. 

Your community = your influence. 

Your community is really where your influence begins to flourish, because it’s organic. These are your people. Through you’re community you’re cementing your perceived influenced because these people who were once strangers are now screaming from the mountain tops on your behalf, sharing with anyone who’ll listen how you changed their life in way, made them try some new products, or influenced them to do something they hadn’t previously considered. 

Someone with a following of 1 million may only have a community of 1,000; whilst your. Following of 10,000 yields you a community of 5,000. 

Think about it — how connected do you feel to the influencers you follow that have millions of followers, versus the ones that have a couple thousand? It’s way easier to sift through 10,000 people than it is to reach into the noise of 1 million.


Which of these are you already doing?

Are you creating content, getting personal, diversifying your craft, and/or establishing a community? Because if you answered yes to any combination of these then you’re already on your way to developing the presence that’s needed to set you apart as an influencer. 

While you will have loads of people who turn than noise up at doing anything more than simply servicing clientele, there’s an undeniable power of pursuing more, if you want to. 

For a second, I want you to nerd out with me on some numbers: 

  • 49% of Consumers Depend on Influencer Recommendations (source

  • Influencer Marketing Campaigns Earn $6.50 for Every Dollar Spent (source

  • Influencer Marketing Is the Fastest-Growing Online Customer-Acquisition Method (source

  • Major Brands Plan to Increase Spend on Influencer Marketing (source

  • The Influencer Marketing Industry is Expected to Hit $10 billion by 2020 (source

  • 74% of People Trust Social Networks to Guide Purchasing Decisions (source

  • Influencer Marketing has Surpassed Print Marketing (source

  • 60% of Consumers Have Been Influenced by Social Media or Blog While Shopping at a Store  (source

If you read our latest blog post on lessons learned from the Fyre Festival documentaries, then you know one of those lessons was that influencer marketing works — for better or for worse, it’s here and it’s not going anywhere for a really, really long time. There is not only a monetary value in exploring influencer status, but like with any new endeavor, there’s way more value add with a little bit of elbow grease.

So now I want to hear from you?

What could being an influencer mean for you, if it’s something you’re looking to explore…if you already aren’t?

Something, besides thinking I’m awesome, made you listen to today’s episode; so what attracts you to this world of influencer marketing?

Are you looking for new ways to serve without being beholden to client work?

Are you excited at the thought of creating more ways to be creative?

Or is it something else altogether?

I’d love to know where you land on the topic, but first and foremost I’d love to know what being an influencer means to you — as both a consumer and creator. 

While you’re listening to the episode, take a screenshot and tag @thedesigninfluence on Instagram or Facebook so that we can keep the conversation going or drop your thoughts in the comments below the corresponding post.


THIS EPISODE IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE INFLUENCE DIRECTORY.

The Influence Directory is an index of courses designed to help you maximize your expertise and influence. From software to strategy, tools to tactics, I have pooled my knowledge and resources to help you learn, connect, and thrive on your designpreneur journey.


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