What it's really like to be a fashion influencer on Instagram

Being a fashion influencer is a relatively new profession, and so is often misunderstood. In fact bloggers are often labelled them as 'lazy', 'in it for the freebies', 'raking it in', or even that it's 'not a real job', and other misconceptions.

However in my experience, they are anything but. In fact, the influencers I've both worked with and am friends are some of the hardest-working people I know, getting up as the sun rises for photo shoots, working with brands on paid projects, editing videos into the small hours and of course producing non-stop content for their followers.

To shed a little light on what goes on behind the scenes of a successful Instagrammer, I interviewed a range of influencers, from the 'nanos' with around 10k followers, to those with k+ followers. Here are their refreshingly honest answers, from how much they spend on clothes, to how much they charge brands for content.

How often do fashion influencers take outfit pictures?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): 1-2 times a week. I tend to shoot a few looks in one go to have content for the whole week.

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Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): This depends! I try and only take photos while I’m out and about/wearing it rather than dragging a suitcase around London as I like it to be more authentic and things I actually wore as my style is very casual. I aim for a photo a day but realistically it’s probably 5 a week.

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): Usually it would be 6-7 days a week which can be affected if I've a number of flights in one day or if I have to be on set ( I worked as a curve model for the last ten years so this is something I still do separate from blogging). My overall aim is to create 30 pieces of content per month which covers reader requests, trend tacklers and current trends or topic I personally love and think would be helpful for people.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): Every week I have a photo shoot with my photographer or any international visiting photographers where we’ll shoot about 10 looks or shoot for a magazine. 10 outfits will last me for about a week on my feed.

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): I take outfit pictures at least three times a week for work purposes. I wish I took more imagery for myself and about my personal style but life can get into the way.

How often do fashion influencers buy new clothes?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): I rarely shop anymore. I'm so lucky to receive clothing regularly from brands that I'd rather spend my money on other things.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): I have really tried to stop buying in excess, as I hate having things I won’t wear or don’t ‘spark joy’. I’d say I buy 2-4 pieces a month which will be mid-range rather than super disposable or trend-lead.

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): With fashion I aim to have my key go to pieces as staples I'll use time and time again and mix in with current trends. Some months of course such as September and February for Fashion Weeks, summer for swimwear or Christmas you will find yourself spending more.

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Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): Since becoming a luxury influencer I've bought way less, as all the brands I’m endorsed by are where I was previously shopping. But of course, I still shop for handbags and shoes!

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): I tend to not shop often only for accessories especially when I am travelling. This is due to working with a lot of adored brands and being able to select from their upcoming collections to have in my personal wardrobe.

How much would do fashion influencers spend on clothes every month?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): On average £100 max - the outfits I post are usually gifted by brands I work with.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): I’d estimate between £100-300, unless I’ve planned a bigger purchase or am saving for a holiday etc. Usually a couple of key pieces from the likes of Mango or Stories. I rarely buy anything designer as I always spend forever considering the purchase and saving etc. When I do it’ll be a ‘forever’ item such as a handbag or shoes. I never commit big spends to trends that I feel won’t have any longevity.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): As I’m a born fashionista I still spend quite a lot on clothes every month just for my pure adoration of fashion and trends. I truly admire new designs and collections from brands and love to stay current and up to date. So, I'd say I spend between £5,000-£10,000 a month on luxury designers and my own shopping habits.

How do fashion influencers monetise your content?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): Affiliate links and sponsored posts with brands. Affiliate links are trackable links that you earn a commission from if someone makes a purchase via that link. Sponsored posts with brands basically means that a brand pays you to feature their product and to promote it.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): I use RewardStyle which is an affiliate network, so I make a small commission on sales I make. I also do brand collaborations when they fit with my content.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): I started by tagging the brands I had shopped at in my photos to get their attention. Then, as my following grew it picked up a lot of traction and there was increasing interaction on my posts. I began recognising how much I was endorsing the company’s products, and as a result these brands would contact me asking to collaborate. You can monetise from the smallest followings, I would say there’s no minimum in fact. For example, somebody that only has 10,000 followers may have a thousand comments on their photos and two thousand likes. This means they could have better interaction on their posts than somebody with 200,000 followers, showing you can monetise your content from any point. All you need is creative content, and for me that was always being able to take photos in luxury destinations with the items I was sent, generating interest and a unique photo.

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Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): There’s various ways individuals can monetise content and it very much depends on whether the person is a blogger, a You Tuber or strictly Instagram only. For me personally, Style Me Curvy began over 8 years ago and it will always be my baby so I’m very strict as to what I feature and who I work with so its definitely a process. If a brand is a right fit for my readers then I might work with them on different campaigns they’re working on which can be something such as X brand looking to highlight their latest dresses which would have good size diversity. I could be asked to create content for a brands own website, not mine, and then I have affiliate links on some of my content pieces. Affiliate links is something that is often misinterpreted. It means a blogger will receive a very small percentage of a sale usually 2-10% (sometimes 20% but in very rare circumstances) but this doesn’t cost the individual who purchases the product, it's between bloggers and affiliate link companies who represent brands.

How much do fashion influencers charge brands for an outfit post?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): This really depends on what the brand asks for in the content created. I would say the rule of thumb is charge £100 for every 10,000 followers you have. I've been working by this since the very start.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): This depends on the deliverables, usage rights, and exclusivity etc. There’s far more that goes into it than people think! Industry standard is to charge 1% of your following, but this definitely fluctuates depending on the brand and required content.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): Now I’m over 1 million followers it’s jumped into a whole new price range. I don’t usually disclose the exact details of how much I charge, but it’s a four figure number and upwards.

How many hours do fashion influencers work?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): It's hard to say because no two days are the same. Perhaps on average 8am - 6pm. Although sometimes there are night events and this is considered work as you're either paid to be there or it's a networking opportunity that'll benefit you in the long run. But if it's a press trip for example, you're on call pretty much the whole time you're awake.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): I actually have M.E so work much better in the evening, as the mornings are hard for me! If I’m working from home, I’m up by about 9-9.30am and then work on and off (between walking my dog and finding other distractions) until about 9pm. Sometimes later if my boyfriend isn’t in to peel me away. I find myself doing odd jobs late at night, weirdly that’s when I’m most creative.

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): It's very much one of those jobs based on 'When I open my eyes in the morning and when I close my eyes to go to bed'. Theres that constant 'on' feeling. It would probably be 80 hours a week and more would be my average hours for social media content, emails and admin. In summertime I would get anything from 300-500 reader request emails which I try to answer all on top of work emails and model work too.

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Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): My career is pretty time consuming in terms of hours but I have a great team that work for me a run my İnstagram. I love working so it’s not really work I guess too *winks* I think it’s important that I get to know brands and connect with my followers. I create my own hours and I’m super ambitious so can be 7 days a week or it can be just a few hours a day. I always make sure to interact with all my followers and fans so that I can get to know them. I’ll then attend photoshoots, events for press, interviews and meetings. However, a major advantage of my job is that I can choose what I go to and when I work. If I don’t want to work for a whole week and just lay on the beach in one of my villas, I will.

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): I am 24/7 on call and on email. Juggling multiple jobs at once you always have to be available and ready to hop on a plane when needed.

What do fashion influencers do in a day?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): This really varies from day to day. I usually start the day with responding to emails. There could be a brand breakfast, lunch or a coffee meeting. Meetings are either to introduce me to a new launch, to discuss potential collaboration opportunities or to simply build a relationship with the brand. There are also brand press days or events during the day. A brand dinner, launch or party in the evening. Shoots. Post office pick ups, sample returns. Admin - invoicing, overseeing contracts, editing. Routine bores me though, so I love that it's different from day to day.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): Honestly there are no two days the same. If I’m working from home, I get up, get ready and potter about. I often work from coffee shops if it’s just an admin day, or potentially head out and shoot with a friend. I also spend a lot of time as a freelance photographer and creative assistant. I work with a few ‘bigger bloggers’ for want of a better word, helping them to create content so those days I’m up and out shooting and will likely spend the rest of the day editing at my desk.

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): It could be a 4am in the morning start to get to the airport then when you arrive at a specific country you would get straight into creating content for a few hours or go straight to a work event. Some days I'm trying to cram 8 meetings into a day. There are lots of 18 hour days you sometimes don't anticipate but when you love what you do you just go with the flow of it really.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): A day in the life of Natasha Grano is pretty fun actually! I have a show on my IGTV that is all about this. First of all, I have cuddles with my baby, as I am a mummy first and foremost. Then I have meetings with my assistant, agent, intern. During the afternoon I’m usually at press days for luxury brands, doing a photo shoot or being interviewed for a magazine or show. In the evenings during the week, I have fun events for the likes of Dior, or huge charity gala dinners with A-Listers and inspirational individuals. These are my fav kind of days, as I get to have brands like Balmain Hair Couture at my house doing my hair, whilst I stuff my face with my favourite truffles. LOL!

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Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): This past month I’ve lived throughout hotels. Taking me to a different city every couple of days. On days when I go to set for work, I’ll wake up around two hours before my call time, have a coffee over checking my emails, prep my set bag and I am on my way. My evenings are filled with computer work and making sure I don’t fall behind. My phone is not just an accessory as so much so my assistant I fall back on.

How often do fashion influencers post?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): I try and post on my main feed once a day but this only works if I have enough content stocked up. If I don't have enough to post once a day, I aim for every other day. With stories it's usually several times a day, depending on what you're doing and what you think is an interesting or fun share.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): I post stories every day, sometimes just aimlessly chatting about something I’ve just bought or found. I probably drive people mad! Feed wise I aim for every day but 5 times a week is a good week for me.

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): Every day.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): When I first started out I posted three times a day, but now that I have more followers I don’t like to overfeed them. So, now I post once a day and upload more stories.

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): I would say I post every two days. But with certain social media contracts I could have to post multiple times in a week which then can overlap with your personal posts.

Do they ever compare yourself to other influencers?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): Yes! And it can be exhausting. You're constantly comparing yourself to other influencers, which isn't healthy. Always thinking I could be doing more, why haven't I achieved this yet. But I think it's important to go at your own pace and just do the best you can, remember to enjoy the ride!

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): It’s really hard not to! Especially as I work so closely with other girls. Seeing what they earn and campaigns they’re getting can make you feel less ‘worthy' I suppose? Most of my friends also have a bigger following than me, and it can be hard not being invited to the same events or being offered the same campaigns when you work just as hard, but with that said, it’s also really empowering knowing I’m part of an industry where women are key and are earning lots of money!

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): No never. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): I never compare, as I am true to my authentic self and I believe that we are all completely different. I follow many influencers; some are now friends whilst others are A-List celebrities. I admire everybody’s pages and try not to compare at any cost, as everybody has a different story, path and end goal.

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): NEVER - I truly believe we all have a platform for a reason. I strive to be unique and stay true to myself.

What do fashion influencers do with clothes they no longer wear?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): I either give it to charity, to my friends or I sell the more valuable items. Currently I have them for sale on Detoxed.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): My local charity shops love me! I also have a few friends who come and dig through them periodically. I think I’ve single handily dressed one of my school friends for about three years! I also sell certain items on Depop or similar from time to time.

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): There are set charities I've donated my pieces to for years. Mainly homeless related charities and specifically, Women’s Aid which is an incredible charity helping women and children in domestic violent situations. For example certain pieces are sent to women’s refuge shelters and the rest are sent to their stores to raise funds for the charity itself.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): I like to give them to my sisters, friends, charity or any person I work with who says they like an item of clothing I’ve worn. I’m a real philanthropist and love giving back to the world. So, if you’re reading this and like any of the pieces on my page please send me an Instagram DM. If I still have the item, it would be an honour to give it away to a fan.

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): I donate my clothes I no longer wear, but to be honest every time I clean house my friends always ask for first dibs. I always feel a huge sentimental value towards my clothing- as if they’ve helped me through a specific time in my life. It is nice to pass them along and see someone enjoy them as much as I did.

Do fashion influencers rewear/repost outfits?

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): Yeah, I do. For example, I'll style a dress differently and shoot it in another location so it's a completely different vibe. Or I'll re-style bits to create a whole new look. It's important to show that you can really transform a look and you don't always need new things to feel good in what you're wearing.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): I definitely repeat outfits, I’m nowhere near a stage of buying things to wear once, nor would I want to! I hate being wasteful and definitely talk about versatility where I can.

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): It depends on the topic, sometimes if a particular item was really popular at the time and sold out quickly that people really wanted to purchase I'll highlight it if it came back into stock.

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): If an outfit had an incredible response the first time around, I will sometimes repost it months later. My most successful photo on Instagram is where I’m holding my son and wearing gingham.

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers):

How to become a fashion influencer

Anisa Sojka (52.2k followers): Create your own vision. There are so many accounts that look the same, it's important to stand out in the only way you can, which is being you and only you.

Georgia Meramo (21.4k followers): Find a niche, and post what you’d like to see from others. I think I found it really difficult at first, often caving to what ‘does well’ online or joining in trends that weren’t very me but the reality is, I like minimal fashion and talk about death metal and my puppy a lot. There’s someone for everyone at the end of the day! Finally, don’t ever start for the ‘money’ or ‘free things’ as it’s always obvious who’s not authentic!

Louise O’Reilly @stylemecurvy (97.6k followers): Get involved in the blogger community. I’ve met some of the most incredibly supportive people in this industry and while some argue blogging is becoming a flooded market, I feel in you’re really passionate about what you do with genuine integrity to your content you will find a space and a platform where your voice can thrive, there are bloggers of all levels of following which have great support systems for one another. Similarly it would be good to note that blogging isn't age specific, there's been a number of age 50+ bloggers creating brilliant inspiring content and creating a voice for women just like them with similar interests. There's space for everyone!

Natasha Grano (1.2m followers): I love this question as there are so many tips I can give. My main tip would be this: your content needs to be incredibly clear. There can be nothing in the background distracting from the product you are promoting. A messy room is a no go, but standing on some scenic steps is a yes. You want to create an aesthetically appealing feed, so know the colour themes and angle you are going for before starting. Also, remember to put content that is relevant to you and your niche in your stories to engage followers and show your character. My final tip is never forget to hashtag, putting them in the comment below as you can write up to 30 vital hashtags. Choose hashtags that don’t have millions of posts, as it is relative to how many likes you get. For example, I will choose hashtags that have one to three million posts due to my interaction. However, if you only get 5,000 likes per post, choose a hashtag that will lead you to become the top post in these hashtag. Good luck budding influencers!

Hayley Hasselhoff (82.1k followers): Stay true to who you are. A following will only grow from authenticity. Stand up for your voice and own your place in it. Beauty comes from being unique, Strength comes from allowing yourself to grow and being you is power.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at MoneySavingExpert.com, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.