Sarah Ashcroft started off as fashion blogger ‘That Pommie Girl‘, but 800k Instagram followers, a successful YouTube channel and campaigns with everyone from ASOS to L’Oreal and Nars later, she’s managed to carve herself out a lucrative career as a social influencer.
Here’s how she turned her social media following into a money making machine.
“I started my blog in September 2013 while I was looking for a job in fashion PR, because employers would always ask about whether I had one during interviews.
I initially found it really cringe: my old blog photos are me standing on my driveway in high street clothes, with my boyfriend at the time or my mum taking the photos for me.
I was blogging outfit posts three times a week – so I used to buy clothes, wear them for the photographs and take them back. I couldn’t afford to keep them. It’s more common than you think and people definitely still do it – it’s out of the ordinary to be able to afford to keep that many clothes. I wanted to offer new and fresh content every post, but it came with a lot of pressure.
“I used to buy clothes, wear them for the photographs and take them back”
It was just a hobby and I didn’t try too hard: a lot of people say I have a knack of wearing something inexpensive and making it look expensive, so that might have something to do with it.
It grew organically and really quickly: by February 2014, I was doing it full time, and actually turned down ‘real’ jobs because it started to become a standalone thing.”
“Six months after I started blogging, I was approached by a blogger network who wanted me to join their team. My followers are so engaged with me that whatever I wear, they will go and buy it – which makes it such a big money earner. That’s what allowed me to go full time straight away – brands know that if I wear their clothes, people will buy it.
The more successful my blog and Instagram became, the more brands started to send me things for free, which made outfit posts a lot easier. It wasn’t until I I hit 200k followers on Instagram that I started charging for posts – before then, brands had never asked, ‘How much do you charge for a sponsored photo?’, so I hadn’t even realised it was monetised.
I was doing it for fun and as a hobby, and I feel like that’s lost now. Blogging is so saturated with people who do it because they want to make loads of money, they want to be sponsored; not because they love it.
For me, I wanted to work in this industry from the very beginning, whereas now that’s not always the case with bloggers. I wanted to be a PR, and I still get to enjoy that world but from the other side; now I’m the one being taken on trips and for dinner, rather than the other way around – and people go after that with the wrong intentions.”
The power of influence
“I started to realise that my followers are so engaged and care so much about my opinion that brands shouldn’t be telling me what to post – I should be telling them. Which is why companies like Missguided and In The Style approached me to create collections with them – because I understand my followers and what they want better than anyone.
“It’s the same with my social media too, really. I don’t really blog anymore because we live in a lazy culture, and I know that people can’t be bothered to click a link. Once people have seen the clothes on Instagram, they want to know where they’re from there and then. That’s why I do YouTube, too – people will engage with it because they get to know you, and you can get across your personality.
“I always think about what I’ll do when Instagram dies. I want to create businesses that won’t fade with social media – it’s about being savvy with your followers and taking them with you, being lucrative with their support. I’m hoping to launch my own brand soon: not alongside another company, but my own thing.”
“Internet fame isn’t real: if you put me in a situation without my followers, no one knows who I am. If I’m in an office full of men, they’ll be like, ‘Who is this girl?’. I don’t feel famous because it’s my real life, this is just who I am: social media doesn’t take over my life because it is my life.
“I’m not a celebrity, so I need to be attainable. If people ask where my jacket’s from, I don’t ignore them because that’s what I’m there for. It’s so important for my followers to feel like they can relate to me. It’s about being yourself, being really open and not putting a facade up. I spend an hour and a half replying to comments every day.
“I take about 500 photos for every Instagram post, and while I used to post three times a day, I’ve only posted once a day since the new algorithm came in. You get a lot more engagement on that one post, and it makes me more selective with my content.”
Friends or fakes?
“The blogging world is quite fake, because you’re essentially in competition with each other. No one ever admits it, but you’re all going for the same jobs – so I don’t trust a lot of people.
“I’ve known my close friends for years – they’re not friends with me because I’ve got an Instagram following. I’m very blessed to have a strong circle of friends outside of the industry, because you’ve got to have a very good judge of character in it.
“Do they want to date me or do they just want to be Instagram famous?”
“If you throw loads of girls together in any situation, there’s going to be problems. You don’t know if people want to be friends with you because you’ve got a following and they see you just for what they can get from you, or if they actually like you. Do they want to date me or do they just want to be Instagram famous, too? Or I’ll get messages from the most tenuous people asking me to wear their cousin’s friend’s brand – people claiming to know me, or using my name for things.
“But I’m a very good judge of character, I see it coming.”
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The social media stars of the future
“If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think there’s any space for more bloggers in the industry – everyone is one these days. It’s ridiculous. But if someone wants to start, you can’t focus on what everyone else is doing – the only way you’re going to stand out is if you do something completely original and be totally yourself.
The amount of Instagram pages that I come across that I’m like, ‘Is this my Instagram page?’ It’s flattering, but I almost want to say to them, ‘Look, I know that you love what I do, but you’re not going to get anywhere by doing that because I already do it.’ That’s the problem – people fixate too much on what other people are doing. But it’s not engaging – that’s not what blogging should be.
I’ve never cared what people think about me, which is really important if you want to be in this industry. You’ve got to have a backbone and not get lost in people’s opinions of you. You have to be confident in yourself and not care what people think.
You have to do it because you love it. “
Find Sarah’s In The Style range here.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK