Why and How I Made the Leap From Writer to Influencer

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Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram (@wadateni). In fact, aside from this Baby Kaiju blog, that’s where a great chunk of my (limited) free times goes. Months ago, I’d be up late researching travel destinations in Japan; Nowadays, I’m trying to keep my Instagram engagement in the double digits. What happened? This is why and how I made the leap from writer to influencer.

Earlier this year, I  wrote out my goals for 2018, which included monetizing my Instagram and reaching 10,000 followers. At the time, I was content with writing and translation work, so those just seemed like pretty lofty goals. Who has the time to figure out all of that?

 

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READ: 18 Professional And Personal Goals for 2018

But, soon, I got the hang of Instagram, and finally unlocked the first stage in something more.

Thanks to Instagram, I’ve been able to reach a wider audience and interact with them regularly through comments, DMs, and, Stories. My travel posts are very popular as well as my life in Japan posts. But perhaps the most well-received posts are those of my little monster!

 

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The “Why”

So what’s the allure of Instagram? To be honest, it’s all because as a freelance writer, you have to hustle to keep the income flowing. I am very fortunate to return to steady and stable work as a kindergarten teacher. It’s not just because of income, but because little Kaiju goes to daycare, where she’s surrounded by kids her own age and immersed in Japanese language.

And, the older she became, the more time I’d have to write — or so I’d thought! There are days when I even miss work at kindergarten because she’s gotten a fever or some other ailment.

Being a freelance writer, I do a lot of pitches. I write mainly about Japan, so I spend time researching a topic, looking at existing articles and seeing how I can put my own spin on it. Some ideas get picked up, but many get rejected. The rejection doesn’t hurt, honestly, it’s more of, “Crap, I need to think of something else so I can get paid next month!”

But, when I’m doing my Instagram ~thing~ the projects are shorter and don’t require as much prepping — aside from the photo part!

It really feels like now I have more creative control over my projects. I don’t need to wait for approval — I go through my inbox, app, or user homepage and sign up for the campaign I want to do.

 

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What’s more, my portfolio is updated almost daily. Takw for instance a writing assignment about trending Japanese beauty oroducts. That might not go live until weeks after the final draft is submitted. On the other hand, an Instagram post about a trending product is updated practically instantly. 

The “How”

I’ll write about all of “the how” in a much more detailed post but here’s a super brief summary:

My road to monetizing my Instagram all started with entering a “brand rep” contest for the US-based baby and toddler clothing line, Fashionistots. It was just on a whim. I was looking for cute Instagram shops that ship internationally and came across their super cute outfits and contest.

 

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READ:  A Day in the Life of a Working Mom in Tokyo

With this experience and photos in my writer portfolio, I decided to look for other opportunities…and was contacted by Twistshake to do a collaboration. And, it just snowwballed from there! Pure luck, I guess.

Later, I signed up with Heartbeat and have done 5 campaigns to date. I also signed up with the Japanese platforms Trend-Gram, Influencer One, and Woomy for more opportunities (and to use more Japanese in my daily life!). 

On the technical side, I must have tweaked my bio and profile photo at least 36 times, as well as constantly monitoring the overall look of my feed. I put more effort into my photos as well as streamlining my blog and Instagram feed to grow off each other. I also study similar accounts in my niche for feed inspiration.

 

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What’s Next?

I do continue to write, though I’ve become more selective with my projects. I don’t want to take on more than I can handle, in the event that little Kaiju gets sick and I’m unable to complete a project for a client.

For the time being, I’ll stick with monetizing my Instagram and Baby Kaiju blog. I now see the potential in starting an “online business” and would like to strategically grow my following to 20,000 and increase in income through my account and blog.

At the same time, I don’t feel right calling myself an influencer. I’m very well aware of criticism towards bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers who get paid to “do nothing,” so perhaps that’s why I’m not too stuck on the word.

Yet, looking forward, I want to continue to introduce more of Tokyo, and Japan. I still love writing about Japan and sharing my passion for my home, the language, the people, the culture, the cuisine. I’d definitely love to work with more domestic brands, local cafe/restaurants, and promote “Japan with tots” travel itineraries.

 

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2019 is fast approaching and I’m looking forward to tackling new challenges as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics draw near!

Why and How I Made the Leap From Writer to Influencer

Teni
Tokyo-based beautyholic and content creator. Mom to a monster and a furbaby. Driven by intense wanderlust and powered by limited edition snacks and drinks from Japan.

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