Giving up balance sheets for online posts3 min read . Updated: 30 Dec 2019, 08:47 PM IST
It all depends on how you market yourself and the kind of campaigns and brands that you work with, says Bhumika Thakkar
While trying to locate a beauty product online in 2010, Bhumika Thakkar, 31, came across a wellness blog. She spent the next few hours browsing the many product reviews it offered.
When the same blog was converted into a website a few months later, Thakkar, who had just finished her graduation in commerce and was preparing for her final chartered accountancy exam, was offered her first brand collaboration: writing a review for a skincare product. It was her initiation into the world of a social media influencer, which has now become her full-time job.
“At that time, there were just a couple of blogs related to beauty products and skincare. I got paid for that review, but I thought why not do it for myself rather than someone else," she says.
Two months after the review, she started her own blog, more as a hobby. During the early days, her social media posts were infrequent as there were studies to attend to, but after finishing her exams, she became more regular.
The first blog was on a free platform, but when Mumbai-based Thakkar saw her posts were generating interest, she decided to take on a professional approach.
By 2011, she had bought a domain name and also invested in a camera to add colour to the blog, all of which needed an investment of ₹25,000. She also had to understand the world of search engine optimization (SEO) and meta tags to ensure that her blog drew the necessary eyeballs.
The starting game
“When I started out, I had to go buy the products that I wanted to review. But a few years down the line, the same articles got noticed by brands and public relation professionals," she says.
“Several brands started out with a sort of barter system, which at the time was unheard of in India but worked for both parties," she adds.
In 2015, Thakkar saw enough promise in blogging full time and set aside her aspiration to become an accountant. Her family wasn’t exactly pleased with her decision, given the number of years she had invested in pursuing the master’s degree.
“For the longest time, I didn’t tell anyone about what I was doing, simply because nobody would understand it. A lot of my friends realized what I was up to only when they stumbled upon the blog," she says.
When Thakkar was about to get married, she started her first series, called “Wedding Diaries". Over the next year and a half, she visited multiple stores and would blog about what they had to offer for a wedding—everything from apparel to accessories. She also looked up make-up artists in multiple cities to spot the good ones. By the time she got hitched, she had compiled enough options for different wedding budgets. “It went viral at the time and I earned a lot of followers through it," she recalls.
While there were multiple social media platforms to work with, things got better for Thakkar once Instagram gained popularity. At the same time, she had to upgrade to a better camera and learn how to work with videos. The bigger challenge, however, was to face the camera while creating a post.
“The first few videos were terrible. The lighting was bad and I was really uncomfortable. But it was necessary because I realized that people preferred watching something rather than reading about the same product. It took multiple attempts to get used to standing in front of a camera and talking, but it also helped me grow as a person."
With time, work started pouring in and brands approached her to try their products and post reviews. The collaborations and campaigns varied with each client, and over time, Thakkar realized that she was doing something right.
Today, she has about 191,000 followers on Instagram and 9,500-odd subscribers on her YouTube channel.
“An influencer who has six lakh followers can make over ₹5 lakh a month, while someone who’s just started out may make a few thousands. It all depends on how you market yourself and the kind of campaigns and brands that you work with," she says.
She has also branched out to work in travel and lifestyle sectors and has collaborated with airlines and tourism boards over the last year.
There’s just one catch to her job: the number of products she’s gathered over the past decade. “My husband used to get quite annoyed with the mess I would make each time I was working. He’s at ease now because I have a dedicated room for my products," she says.
Work Shift is a series on professions that didn’t exist a decade ago.