LIVE WITH ELLE: How to cope with negativity & trolls as an influencer/blogger.
On the weekend, I was fortunate enough to be a speaker at the Rising Social Star RSS LIVE event, and talk all things social media. In particular, we focused on the negativity that all influencers/bloggers face, and a whole heap of other really interesting topics. I really enjoyed speaking at the event, and I’ve had a few people who couldn’t attend the event ask if I could do a summary, which I said… HECK YES! Here you go my dear friends, I hope this helps someone!
When I first started my Instagram, it was as a personal weightloss channel and nothing more. I posted the occasional photo of my dog, my meals and gym selfies (because #fitfam). It was only when I started to get more serious did I get more into Instagram, and named it (get ready for it); @elliegettingfit. This name stuck to me like glue, and not in a good way. But you know what? It was my original name, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it.
After tossing and turning for ages on a new name (I’m talking a year or two!), I renamed my blog to @eatwithelle, where I focused on food and healthy living. When I began working in the beauty department of Women’s Health mag, I instantly fell in love with writing about beauty. I hated that I’d somehow pigeonholed myself into the food category, and I knew a rename was in order. I knew I wanted to write about health, beauty, travel, fashion, lifestyle… basically my whole life! After uhming and ahing for ages, I came up withwhat everyone knows it as today, @livewithelle. You know what? I LOVE it and I’ll never change it again.
One big thing I learnt is to not be afraid of a name change. Give your followers warning and let them know why, you might think you’re scaring off people, but really you’re opening up your channel to an entirely new audience!
What has been the most difficult part about opening yourselves up to the public?
For me, opening up to people has always been super easy. I’m an over-sharer by nature, and most things that happen in my life always have a lesson attached. I’m much more inclined to share the lesson I learnt from a crappy life experience with my friends, family and followers rather than keeping it inside and letting it all build up.
You have to remember that as soon as you open yourself up online, there will ALWAYS be people that have something negative to say. With random trolls, don’t fall into the temptation of trying to defend yourself or chatting back to them. They’re there for a reaction, and thrive off any acknowledgement that you give them. DELETE, BLOCK AND MOVE ON!
Obviously, trolls and online negativity is something we all face. How have you handled this so far? Can you share a story of when this has happened to you?
When you share most of your life on social media, people will always criticise you. It’s part of the game, and you need to have a thick skin otherwise you simply won’t survive. I’ve been quite fortunate that I didn’t run into too much negativity, but there have been a couple of moments that I remember nearly pushed me over the edge.
When my blog was still just a baby, I remember waking up and feeling REALLY proud that I had finally gained some kind of abs. I’d worked fricken hard to get to that stage, and wanted to share it with my small audience and show that working hard really does pay off. I’d uploaded the photo, and the beautiful words of encouragement it received had me feeling elated. I was on top of the world, and felt like nothing could bring me down. UNTIL, a girl from school (who I’d never been close friends) sent me a completely random message out of the blue, letting me know that it was embarrassing for me to upload photos like that, and that everyone from my high school had been talking about me and disapproving.
Firstly, it was a complete and utter shock to the system. I hadn’t spoken to this individual for a few years, and I had no idea how she had my number, or why she felt the need to be so damn horrible. I wish I could say I deleted, blocked and moved on, but it was the very opposite. I re-read her message over and over again, until the tears in my eyes had blurred my vision so much I couldn’t see the screen.
It’s hard to admit, but I can still remember that message word-for-word because it horrified me SO much. I ended up getting off Instagram for a couple of weeks, and really re-thinking everything that I was doing. When you receive a random message like that off a troll, you don’t let it bother you. When you receive a message like that from someone you personally knew? That’s next level.
I can say this story does have a happy ending, and I certainly did end up deleting, blocking and moving on from her. There is absolutely no room in life for awful people like that, and if that ever happens to you, remember that you are so much more than those hideous words people call you.
The second negativity that I’ve faced online was when an article I’d written about culling friendships was picked up by the Daily Mail. They’d asked (with permission) to interview me about it, but it ended up turning into a story more about myself than the original article I’d written.
That was weird, but it was also fine. I was absolutely stoked to be featured in the Daily Mail, and was proud to get my name and my blog out there. Before I say the next part, I do have to acknowledge that 99% of comments on Daily Mail articles are nearly always negative. They’re the trolls that take great pleasure in putting people down, and I knew that when I looked at the comments that they’d probably be really hard to read.
When I eventually DID view them, of course they were horrible. I distinctly remember one that said “I want to CULL Ellie Parker.” For the first time ever, it didn’t upset me. In fact, I read through those comments with a wine in hand, laughing about how this person that wanted to cull me knew my name and the name of my blog; what a win!
You learn to take the good with the bad, as it really is part of the experience of being a blogger/influencer/writer.
How do you personally stay positive and push through the backlash?
I always focus on the positive, and in moments of darkness I focus on remembering why I started. Each and every time someone comments on my photos, my heart nearly bursts with love. When just ONE person writes to me that an article I wrote really helped them or gave them a different view of the world, I can’t help but smile.
It sounds incredibly corny, but I do it for the love of it. I studied Journalism at university, and always had a passion for writing. I never thought anyone would be mildly interested in what I wrote, so when I originally started my blog it was an awesome experience knowing that people were reading my content.
Another point is that you need to surround yourself with people who bring you up, that understand what you do and will support you no matter what. I’m extremely lucky that my friends and family are the most supportive, encouraging people in the world. Instead of judging me, they are the first to share and recommend my work. WHAT LEGENDS!
What is the number one tip you would share with the audience today on becoming a social influencer?
When we were asked on stage to give just one tip, I couldn’t help myself but give two. After all, there is no ONE secret to being an influencer/blogger/writer; there are many small tips and tricks that will help your journey, but at the end of the day it’s perseverance and hard work.
Firstly, JUST DO IT. Stop whinging, thinking, plotting, ‘maybeing’ or over-complicating things. I’m not sure if Nike or I came up with the slogan first (JKS IT WAS TOTALLY NIKE), but nothing has ever been truer. Whatever your problem or roadblock is that is stopping you from starting, eliminate it or go around.
Don’t have the perfect name? Just choose anything now and change it later.
Don’t know what you’ll write about? Write about ANYTHING at first, and eventually you’ll work out what you love.
Don’t think anyone will be interested in what you have to say? There’s only one way to learn my dear friends, and that’s by actually starting.
My second tip, and one that I still struggle with myself is to not get caught up in the ’influencer game’. Not only is it annoying to start counting likes and comments and judging a photo’s success on them, it’s also dangerous. You can seriously get way too caught up in the numbers game, and from there it’s a steep decline. Don’t compare yourself to other Instagrammers, and just remember to be you. There is no one more you, than YOU my dear reader, and that is exactly why people will follow you.
There are a million accounts out there that all look the same, style their photos the same way and all write the same content. Do you really want to be one of those? Be you, follow your heart and remember; A million likes will never be enough if you don’t like yourself.”