Vancouver content creator’s new guide aims to be a roadmap to becoming an influencer

Influencer marketing is on the rise — but where does it go from here?

Vancouver content creator Cara Jourdan.
Vancouver content creator Cara Jourdan. Photo by Paige Owen

Cara Jourdan admits she cringes when she’s called an “influencer.”

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“I don’t love it, if I am being honest,” she says. “It is true that we are trying to ‘influence’ our audience to engage with our photos or love the products we do, however, I don’t like the arrogance of the word.”

Instead, the Vancouver-based creator and online personality says she prefers the term “content creator” — or, better yet, “blogger” for her full-time career, which sees her work with international brands, taking pictures along the way to share with her more than 365,000 Instagram followers.

“I still say ‘blogger’ because I just prefer it, but it definitely shows my age,” she adds with a laugh.

Jourdan started in the blogging world in 2011 with her site A Fashion Love Affair, after graduating with a degree in women’s studies from the University of Victoria.

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“I have always had a love of fashion, but didn’t think it was the route I was going to go down in terms of a career,” she says. “I then started reading about bloggers in the magazines, and realized this was a great way to engage with fashion without necessarily needing to do it as a career.”

Fast-forward to today, and Jourdan has participated in international fashion weeks from New York to Paris, attending the Victoria’s Secret Runway Show and Cannes Film Festival, working with brands ranging from Moet and Dior to Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. She also created a styling iron hair tool for others to get her trademark beach-y waves.

“I never could have imagined that I would have the chance to do the things I have done and work as a full-time content creator for so many years, making more income than I ever did in any other career that I have done,” Jourdan says. “I still feel like I am living in a dream.”

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Vancouver content creator Cara Jourdan.
Vancouver content creator Cara Jourdan. Photo by Allison Kuhl

With the aim of helping other content creators get into the growing game — the influencer marketing industry on Instagram is valued at more than US$8 billion, according to a recent report — Jourdan has released an ebook that offers a step-by-step guide to growing an online brand.

“My hope is that it breaks down the intimidating part of starting as an influencer,” she says of the guide. “When I began, there weren’t a lot of people to talk to or a lot of resources to go to when it came to setting pricing, for example, or reaching out to companies. And through my experience as a full-time influencer, I have just had so many people ask me, ‘But how do you make money?’

“I wanted to give a peek into the business aspect of being an Influencer and what it actually takes to make it a job where you can earn money and do it full-time.”

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Titled The Business of Blogging: A Guide to Being an Instagram Influencer and Succeeding in Social Media Marketing, the ebook is available for $29 on her website, carajourdan.com. Within its pages, Jourdan says she stresses the importance of taking the job seriously, rather than looking at it as an easy online gig.

“It is a 24/7 job,” she says. “You really have to know it is not as simple as taking one photo and posting it and all of the sudden you are making thousands of dollars. You also have to have tough skin. The amount of ‘nos’ I have gotten in my career definitely outweigh the ‘yeses’ — so you have to be prepared for that and not let it stop you from dreaming and moving forward.”

Jourdan points to the practical tips for topics such as income taxes and budgeting, along with the templates within the book for invoicing, email pitches and outreach to brands as major content highlights for those hoping to break into the industry.

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In addition to publishing her ebook, Jourdan says she’s ramping-up her online content coaching services for businesses and individuals. She’s confident others can learn from her experience in the industry to find their own path to success in content creation.

“There is a place for everyone and I am so excited to have the chance to help out those who are dreaming big,” Jourdan says.

The future of influencers

The influencer industry seems to show no sign of slowing down.

Marketing and paid content using influencers was forecast to represent 20 per cent of digital ad budgets in 2021, according to a Business Insider Intelligence report.

“As the world has become increasingly digital, influencers have become trusted figures amongst their loyal followers and communities,” Michelle Lazar, vice-president of brand marketing at Vancouver-based clothing brand Smash + Tess, explains. “They provide trusted reviews, build brand affinity and control brand narrative. Influencers can promote authenticity and help brands reach their target audience very quickly.”

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Michelle Lazar, vice-president of brand marketing at Vancouver-based brand Smash + Tess.
Michelle Lazar, vice-president of brand marketing at Vancouver-based brand Smash + Tess. Photo by Smash + Tess

The company regularly relies on content creators who have a “strong values alignment” with the brand to help style and promote its locally made garments, which include rompers, dresses and more. The brand has also created several limited-edition ranges with online personalities, creating a product tailored to that individual’s style — and fan base.

“Our growth has been inextricably linked to our partnerships with influencers — from our continued partnership with Jillian Harris to our 2021 collaboration collection with Hilary Duff,” Lazar says.

In future, Lazar expects to see more companies “investing in curating content and achieving brand awareness and growth goals.” And they’ll do it, she says, with the help of influencer partnerships.

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A sense of fatigue?

While brands and content creators are on-board with the idea of increased marketing partnerships, where do consumers fit into the mix?

According to a 2018 report by bazaarvoice.com, 47 per cent of consumers polled reported concern with the repetitive nature of influencer marketing content.

“What was once seen as a new way of promoting, has become saturated and tiresome,” says Michelle Lan, a PR professional behind Vancouver-based firm Armstrong+Lan alongside partner Tara Armstrong. “Vanity metrics took over, measuring success on things like likes, and follower growth took the spotlight. We’re now seeing a shift.

“Influencer, which has now become a cringe-y word — and influencer fatigue has set a stage for a new generation of content creators.”

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Michelle Lan, left, and Tara Armstrong of Vancouver-based PR firm Armstrong+Lan.
Michelle Lan, left, and Tara Armstrong of Vancouver-based PR firm Armstrong+Lan. Photo by Steph Wan

Lan says that where a brand may have previously looked to work with a quantity of content creators, future partnerships will rely on continuing, authentic relationships.

“Knowing who you are working with is key,” Lan says. “The brand and content creator must align. We no longer look at five million followers versus 5,000 followers. It comes down to messaging, aligned values, audience, collaboration — and content creation.”

Armstrong expects to see a growing emphasis placed on influencers with smaller, more engaged followers as the path forward.

“Over the next while, we think we will see the rise of nano- and micro-influencers,” Armstrong says. ” … And a greater shift to authenticity over perfection.”

For influencers like Jourdan, the key to keeping followers engaged will be to adapt content to meet the ever-changing demand of audiences.

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“When I began, Instagram was very dreamy and unapproachable. It was really only a few people who were travelling and attending fashion week and getting gifts in the mail and having this almost celebrity-like life that people were able to tune into,” she says. “Now, with Instagram Stories and TikTok, I think it is much more approachable as influencers can connect on a more personable level … ”

And that approachability, Jourdan says, is what will keep people tuning in.

“I believe anyone can be an influencer,” she says. “We are all just looking to connect with like-minded others who can inspire us while simultaneously showing us that sometimes you wear your pyjamas all day or eat an entire bag of cookies. And that’s OK too.”

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