Discover more from The Rhubarb Society
Vol.7 - The Truth About 'Influencing' 🖋️
and why whales keep making me emotional
Happy Sunday, everyone! Can we believe that it’s only a week until Christmas? Where on earth has the time gone?? As promised on my Instagram stories last week, I will be doing another beauty giveaway (Rhubarb stickers included) to say thank you to all of you for your support since launching this newsletter. All you need to do is leave a comment on this newsletter (and include your IG name) as well as follow me on Instagram so that I can DM the winner in the New Year :) Anyway, as we come to the end of the year, I’ve been reflecting on how much my life has changed, especially in regard to my career! It’s a topic I normally avoid talking about in detail, but today, I felt it was the right time to share some truths about it. I also think today’s newsletter calls for this slightly depressing playlist that I like to call ‘smoking and drinking alone main character energy’. With that, let’s begin with a segment I normally leave until last…
THE CLUB CORNER
a weekly feature in which I take recurring topics and questions from my DM’s and try my best to answer them - on today’s menu, we have;
‘I would love to hear more about your career change - how did it feel to make the change? were you nervous? did you struggle to adapt to your new professional reality?’
I’ve been putting off answering these types of questions for as long as possible, but as we come to the end of the year, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how much my life has changed in 2022, and I think I’m ready to bore you all with the minute details. This question actually came from last week’s newsletter, where I shared a week in my life as a content creator and all the weird things ‘that’ entails. This is going to be a very long (and pretty vulnerable) answer, so please feel free to skip ahead to the more fun sections should this not be what you want to read on a Sunday morning!
Growing up, I always believed my job title would dictate my worth. I wanted to read at Oxford and eventually become a lawyer. I had images of being very scary, and important, climbing the corporate ladder and being seen as someone of ‘worth’ because I had a serious job with a serious title. Obviously, none of that materialised for multiple reasons, and it was a path that was never meant for me, but I still couldn’t shake the feelings I had that ‘a good job’ = high self-worth. I don’t know if it was a generational thing or a family thing, but that pressure was always there to succeed, and the only way many of us knew how to do that was to get a ‘good job’. I guess that’s why years later, I found myself working in Finance, despite the fact it did not align with my passions or interests in the slightest. I learned a lot, and I made some lifelong friends, but for the last two years in that role, I battled with whether I could give up a seemingly ‘lucrative’ career for something that actually made me happy and utilised my skillset properly. I had always used social media to share the things I loved, and that inspired me, but it never ever crossed my mind for a millisecond that it could ever be a career, let alone one I would willingly choose.
When I first started TikTok during lockdown, I did so out of necessity as I needed to flex a creative muscle that was slowly withering away in my 9-5. I never thought anything would come of it, let alone leaving my full-time ‘proper job’ for it. When I was approached by management and began to make an income through TikTok, I thought, ‘hey, this will be a nice little side hustle alongside my full-time job’. I started working with brands I’d used and admired for years. I began receiving masses of PR packages, and to this day, it still shocks me that brands are so generous. These were both nice to haves, but still not enough to make me consider making it my full-time career. However, as I began to build a following and a community that seemed to genuinely enjoy the content I was creating, I had a moment of pause where I realised how gratifying it was to have strangers tell me that the things I were creating were valid. Whether it was because it made them laugh or simply because it brought a little joy to their day, I thought about the last time that had ever been the case in any of my corporate roles. My degree is in Comparative Literature and Film, and Henry was the first person to remind me that with the content I was creating, I was actually using my degree. I was actually doing something I enjoyed. I was actually utilising my skillset. I worked both jobs simultaneously for nine months (alongside my small business) until I decided to leave my Finance job in April of this year. I’d been negotiating with myself for a few months over what criteria content creating needed to meet before I would leave my full-time job. The funny thing is, I had been making above and beyond my actual salary for months before I ever left my 9-5, and whilst that was an important factor for me in my decision to quit, it still wasn’t enough for me to bite the bullet.
The lack of stability worried me. I’d had a monthly salary and bonus for years that hit my account like clockwork: I’d had my days and weeks planned in the forms of shared calendars, regular meetings, and annual reviews. I knew the faces I would see daily, who I could look forward to grabbing tea with or who I could bitch with in the kitchen. There was even some comfort in the monotony of my regular jobs, like being a child again, where I knew what to expect at school every day and the more serious and important things were taken care of by my parents. No matter how stressful my ‘good jobs’ had been, in the back of my head, I always felt a slight relief in knowing that I was never the be-all and end-all and that I could default to someone higher up when it all got a bit too much. Those concerns aside, I think the biggest thing for me went back to my teenage idea of worth. What on earth was I doing at 29 becoming an ‘influencer?’. How do I tell people that’s what I do for work? Even though I was exactly the same person, it felt like people would no longer take me seriously or respect me because my job title had changed. The connotations of the word ‘influencer’ still sometimes get to me. To top it off, my friends are mainly in Law or Finance, which added another layer of insecurity to my new career choice as they all had ‘good’ jobs. The thing is, I was happier than I’d been in months. I got to do the things I loved, I was making more money than I’d ever imagined, and I had the freedom to do as I pleased (within reason) with my days. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be able to attend film premieres or interview directors. When I started to remind myself of how lucky I was, my insecurities quickly switched to gratitude, and I stopped feeling nervous about my decision (although, admittedly, that only happened relatively recently). Now when people talk to me about what I do, I don’t take it (or myself) too seriously anymore and often answer with something along the lines of ‘not much’. The irony here is that I work 10x more than I ever have in a regular job, but that’s no longer something I feel the need to justify fully.
At first, I really struggled with the switch to being self-employed because, aside from the tax returns, I’m fully responsible for structuring my own day. Some days are hectic, and I can work until midnight. Other days are aimless and, quite frankly, can involve doing nothing. Weekends and holidays are no longer the weekends and holidays I used to have, as I always have to be ‘on’. Coming from a lifetime of school, university and work where this structure was created for me, it has been difficult to self-motivate and hold myself accountable. Another thing that I’ve found myself struggling with is how lonely it can be. As much as your colleagues can be some of the worst people you’ve ever met, you still have the option to build camaraderie and a sense of familiarity with these people. Most of my days are spent alone (yes, I know I’m with Rhubarb, but it’s a very one-sided conversation), and it’s a bizarre industry to make friends in, especially as the average age of the people in it is sub 23. Don’t get me wrong, I have made some great friends whilst doing this full-time, but we’re not communicating daily, an aspect I (surprisingly) miss with corporate life. When I worked in corporate, I begrudged doing overtime, and as far as I was concerned, if you were emailing me past 6 pm, that was tomorrow’s problem. Now? I can’t switch off. I guess that’s my fault for making my life monetisable, but as discussed in last week’s newsletter, if I’m not being productive or constantly contributing to my job in some way, I feel like a failure.
On top of that, even if you want to switch off, it becomes increasingly hard to ignore the barrage of comments and DMs you receive on every social media app…especially when they’re nasty. I have a pretty thick skin which I put down to age, experience, and childhood trauma, but sometimes a perfectly good day can be ruined by someone commenting on your looks/life/race/gender etc. It can also be challenging to draw a hard line when it comes to the parasocial relationship.
When I meet people in the street, a common sentence I hear is, ‘you don’t seem real to me; it’s like you’re not a real person’. I made a video a while back talking about how uncomfortable some experiences can be because people have often screamed at me in the street or touched me without consent, simply because they feel entitled to me and my ‘body’. Unfortunately, people can also feel overly entitled to your time, attention, and details of your life in a way that can be very uncomfortable because you are a ‘fictional online figure’. You have to face putting yourself in an uncomfortable position for an extended period because you’re worried that people will start saying that you’re ‘rude’ for wanting a little privacy. It’s also wild to me that I often experience these things when I am a literal nobody who puts things on an app, so I dread thinking about what actual famous people go through. I also used to think TikTok comments were bad, but at least they’re capped to a certain character length. In my Instagram DMs, I have had ESSAYS sent to me, covering all sorts of nasty, inappropriate and concerning things. I don’t want the above to sound like I’m complaining or whining because I am very aware of how lucky I am to be in this position. I genuinely love what I do, but I just wanted to try and give the most unfiltered view of my experience which has to cover the positives and the negatives. If you’ve made it this far, I guess this would be a good point to tell you some of the juicier details about being an influencer, which I’m going to do in bullet points to try and make this more visually appealing.
Some influencers are genuinely awful. Entitled, rude, pretentious…you name it, I’ve met them. Some will act like you don’t exist because you don’t have a certain following. You can often meet the same person multiple times, and they will still act as if they’ve never met you before. Some are scanning the room whilst talking to you to see if there’s someone more popular they could be chatting to. I’ve had influencers leaving one-of-a-kind experiences during the middle of them because they’d rather go somewhere else. I went to the Chef’s table at The Connaught for a tasting menu and I was the only person who stayed for all of the courses. All social skills and etiquette seem to go out the window or were never developed in the first place. Equally, there are huge influencers who either seem larger than life or wholly irritating online who are actually extremely nice and chilled in person. More often than not, most influencers are also very shy and anxious in person, which can still surprise me as it’s such a departure from their online persona.
The money is ridiculous. If you think about the marketing budgets that a lot of companies have, they are astronomical. They used to need a whole team of people to promote something that one influencer can now do for them. Concept? Filming? Videography? Editing? Styling? Location? Sound? It’s far cheaper to chuck 4 or 5 figures at an influencer to do all of that for them. I often see comments on videos asking how influencers fund their lifestyle and that it must be subsidised by the bank of mum and dad, but trust me, influencing and brand partnerships are highly lucrative, more so than I ever realised. Also, the money you can make has nothing to do with the number of followed you have. I know of influencers with a million + followers that struggle to monetise effectively.
I see a lot of influencers forgetting that events are work and not just a jolly, which I spoke about briefly in this video. Often brands put a lot of time and effort into planning and curating events, and attending is an excellent opportunity to network with brands and other creators. I’ve heard people complaining openly about the food being served, the gifts being ‘shit’, the event being boring etc., all in front of the brand and their team, not realising that the PR team take note of this and refuse to work with them again.
It’s truly a small world, and everybody talks. I’ve heard terrible things about people I’ve never met, purely because everybody overlaps and has worked with each other in some capacity. Whilst I always take things with a pinch of salt, it still surprises me that someone will have an anecdote or a story about someone I know.
80% of events are unbearably awkward. You don’t always get +1s. It’s a lot of small talking and pretending to have a good time. Most people are on their phones. Sometimes you’ll find yourself and 200 other influencers crammed into a room the size of a thumbnail, where you’ll be shoved around depending on who is trying to get what content.
Working with brands is a reeeal mixed bag. To be clear, anything you see an influencer post marked with ‘AD’ is not only paid but has been reviewed and vetted by the brand faaaar in advance. Some brands are great, trust you and your knowledge, and give you complete creative freedom. Some brands send briefs that sound like QVC adverts, and you just know a boomer who doesn’t understand Tiktok (or social media) has written it and is unwilling to bend, even though everyone knows the content will flop. Some appear to be the former when they’re actually the latter. To give you an idea of how these things can work, once you agree to work with a brand, most have a brief or a set of guidelines for the content. You usually submit your concept for them to approve (some want a one-liner, and some want full storyboards, so the level of work can vary here). Once approved, you start on your first draft, which you submit for approval. This is where the sneaky (and annoying) brands show their true colours when they start to give feedback on your draft. Even though you both agree on a concept, you can find your whole video has changed because they keep asking for amends, and four drafts later, the final video no longer looks like the original one. At this point, it can also be too late as contracts have been signed, so you are forced to post something you usually wouldn’t. You also can’t invoice for the work until the video goes live (which is a date they dictate), and the average payment terms are 30-60 days. So, for example, I can agree to work with a brand on the 1st of June, I can spend a few weeks going back and forth with the content, and they can then approve it and ask me to post it at the end of July, I can invoice them on the 1st of August and then, technically, they should pay me within 30-60 days, so let’s be generous and say I’m paid by September (this isn’t always the case though as some can be very late). So, this whole process can take months, from when I start the work to when I'm actually paid for it. I’ve had a handful of brands taking upwards of 8 months to pay.
During this festive period, I will be spending ten days in 3 different parts of the UK. Packing clothes isn’t a problem, but packing my products is something else entirely. One perk of the job is the number of beauty products I get sent for free, and I used to try everything that was sent to me almost immediately, which always upset my skin. I also used to fall into the trap of taking new products away with me on any trips (???), thinking that being somewhere entirely different might just be the perfect time to try a whole new skincare routine (surprisingly, it wasn’t). Anyway, after a lot of trial and error, breakouts, and skin frustrations in foreign countries, I’ve finally learned not to stray from my home routine. These are some of the products I’ve been using the most recently and that I will be taking with me on my mini-sabbatical, all neatly packaged in my beautiful new Beauty Pie case.
Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Pads - I recently ran out of these and grabbed some random ones from the nearest pharmacy, and it felt like my face was being scratched every time I used them, soooo…never again.
Thayers Alcohol-Free Toner - I looooove this toner. I worked with them on a campaign a few months ago, and they sent me a few bottles, so I’ve been using them ever since. I give my face a swipe with this on a cotton pad every morning to refresh my skin.
Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum - I use vitamin C every morning, and I’ve rotated between a few, but this one is my favourite (and it’s currently on sale at LookFantastic). I find some vitamin Cs can pill on your skin when you try and layer it with other products, but this one doesn’t. It brightens my skin and helps with the pigmentation around my jaw and chin.
Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream or Augustinus Bader Rich Cream - Between this horrendous weather and my multiple bouts of sickness, my skin has been feeling very tight and dry, so I’ve been alternating between these two to keep my skin feeling plump and hydrated.
Bondi Sands SP50 - I wear this SPF 50 EVERYDAY. It’s truly one of the best. It doesn’t leave a white cast, it doesn’t smell, and it adds a layer of moisture to the skin.
Perricone MD Sheet Mask - These have really changed the game for me, so I will be taking at least 2 of these for the ten days. I use them sparingly and when I feel like my skin needs an extra boost (which I know it will between the travel, drinking and eating). I was given 2 of these on a trip, and they were an instant hit. I raved about them so much on Instagram that Perricone ended up reaching out to work with me (and they gave me a discount code! ‘TAMSIN’ gets you 30% off). You can buy a single mask, and if you end up loving them as much as me, you can eventually buy a pack.
Elemis Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm - I am now a double cleanse girly, starting with this balm. It removes everything beautifully, and it smells SO good. You can also buy different sizes, which helps with travel and sampling before committing to a full-sized product. Another fantastic and more affordable option is this Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Balm.
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser - I’m not massively loyal to any particular face cleanser, and I use a few on rotation. I recently got a travel-sized version in my Space NK advent calendar, which is why I’ll be packing this face wash!
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Exfoliator - Another product I’ve recently reintroduced to my routine since getting a bottle in an advent calendar. My skin is on the oily side, and this has been great at unclogging my blocked pores and clearing my skin.
Perricone Cold Plasma Serum and Neck Treatment - So I discussed this in a previous newsletter, but recently I went for a Buccal facial massage, and the very scary and knowledgeable Russian woman doing my facial told me to stop using a moisturiser before bed because it wasn’t helping my skin. She told me to switch to a serum, which I’ve done diligently, and I’ve already seen a massive improvement in my skin. I’ve also been using the Perricone Neck serum for the last month since being gifted a jar, and it has drastically improved the deeper lines on my neck. It does have a weird fishy smell, but I’m willing to put up with it for a younger-looking neck.
Hair & Body
Christophe Robin Salt Scrub and Regenerating Mask - This probably comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been following me for a while, but I will be taking these two items with me as my shampoo and conditioner. With this combo and some dry shampoo, I can get away with washing my hair every three days. My current ambassadorship with Christophe has ended, but I’m still 99% sure my discount ‘Tamsin’ works for 20% off.
Living Proof Dry Shampoo - This is the only dry shampoo that makes my hair feel clean and doesn’t leave an annoying white, chalky residue in my hair and on my hands.
Beauty Pie Hair Elixir - I got this recently (in an advent calendar, surprise, surprise), and aside from it smelling nice, I love how it makes my hair and ends look really glossy and nourished. Great after styling.
Brazilian Bum Bum Cream - I got a travel-sized version of this recently, and I’ve mainly been using it on my legs as this weather has been drying them out, so that’s basically the main reason I’m packing this.
I recently had the pleasure of being invited to the UK screening of Avatar: The Way of Water. I’ll never be one to turn down a film invite, but I will admit I wasn’t necessarily excited to see this. On top of that, I saw it had a 3h 12 minute run time, and I started thinking of plausible reasons to leave mid-film. But guess what? I FUCKING LOVED IT. I’ve seen mixed responses from people so far, so I’m going to start with why I enjoyed it. It is visually stunning and entirely captivating for the entire 192 minutes. I was fully immersed in Pandora and the new watery world that James Cameron had created, and experiencing it felt like a visual ASMR. You know how those videos of people cleaning and organising their clutter are weirdly therapeutic for the heart, mind and soul? Watching Avatar had the same effect on me. It also had an unexpected emotional impact that wasn’t related to the main characters, and yes, I may have cried over a whale (hidden by my 3D glasses, thank god).
The plot and the storyline are pretty tired, and a rehash of the first film and the dialogue is also rather clunky (also, the kid who plays Spider was giving GCSE drama), but you don’t go to the cinema to watch a film like Avatar for either of these things. The quality of the SFX/CGI is absolutely mind-blowing, and it has to be seen in a cinema that can do it justice. It’s miles better than the first one (imo) and the perfect form of escapism from anything you might be going through in real life. It is indulgent and nonsensical, and I’m here for it.
A few good things are coming out on Netflix this month, so hopefully, at least one of these should get you through the festive period;
21st December Emily In Paris Season 3 - IT’S A GUILTY PLEASURE OKAY
22nd December Alice In Borderland Season 2 - If you enjoyed Squid Game, then please do not sleep on Alice in Borderland. I have been waiting for season 2 for what feels like forever.
23rd December Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - This has had rave reviews all around, so I am READY. Will it top the first one? Will Daniel Craig’s accent grow on me? Do I really care because I know I will enjoy it regardless???
25th December Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical - I have heavy doubts and concerns as I’m such a fan of the Danny Devito version but a friend who has already seen it promises me that it’s good so I will choose to trust them.
30th December White Noise - It has Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig in it, so I need this to be good.
WATCH, READ, LISTEN
Here are a few pieces of media I've been enjoying this week...
I have an unusual amount of leftover onions to use up before I go away, so I plan on making this wonderful french onion soup recipe (I prefer to use either a proper bone broth or a beef broth for a richer soup)
Since I’ve spoken about Avatar, here’s a great video of director James Cameron breaking down his most iconic films.
An article with director Mark Mylod discussing the connection between The Menu, Succession and Game of Thrones.
Another episode from one of my favourite podcasts, This American Life, where listeners submit their best coincidence stories.
Speaking of getting emotional over a whale, I am unbelievably excited for The Whale to be released. Brendan Fraser’s performance from the trailer clip alone choked me up. However, I have already seen criticisms from various people saying that this film is fatphobic - I would love to hear your thoughts on this and whether this is a valid criticism or not!
And that’s all from the seventh issue of The Rhubarb Society! If you’re keen to get ahead of next week’s segment of ‘The Club Corner’, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below, via email or in my DMs. If there’s anyone you think would be an excellent fit for The Rhubarb Society, please do extend the invitation below.
Tamsin & Rhubarb