My Story: Accidental Influencer, Perks, Difficulties + the Future

Sharing my story about how I became a blogger, I call it the “accidental influencer,” my three main sources of income I juggle (depending on the economy), the perks and difficulties of being an influencer, and if it’s too late for anyone to be a blogger, and the future.

few months ago I wrote a post about my journey of being an accidental influencer. When I wrote the post, I realized I was an entrepreneur who did what came naturally, and suddenly found myself in this space as the industry evolved and I created a job that provides full-time income. I am thankful that as I built my business I didn’t experience pressure to grow. However, as the industry has grown, there has been a need to polish myself to stay in the game, and as it continues to evolve, I do wonder how long I’ll stay in it.

I’m excited to share this story with you and whether you are a blogger or are just curious about the industry, I hope you learn something you didn’t know about the industry or me! :) It’s a long-form post and I sectioned it so you can skip to what you want to learn more about.

The journey of becoming a blogger and influencer

This blog right here, was a photography blog. I had a personal blog before but deleted it once the broken engagement happened and I wanted to delete all evidence of that life and I regret it to this day. With some encouragement from readers who had followed my journey from that blog to photography, I began to share random thoughts, like blogs used to be, an online journal. Maybe you are one of those long-time friends of mine?

A few years later, my first real blogging break was being invited to Sony Club as a brand ambassador with less than a dozen other bloggers (this was before IG was huge). I was a photographer with a blog and I fell in love with Sony products and had so much working with the new gear. Slowly, brands began to approach me inviting me to review items and I thought it would be a unique way to exercise my skills. Then I started to get paid, like really small amounts like $150 a blog post. I still enjoyed it because I felt like it was giving me a new skill to get better at, and it was just fun! I took the projects that felt right, did a lot of different things because I had to figure out what I wanted to focus on, then began to pass up collaborations that didn’t feel like a fit any longer. Figuring out what I wanted to focus on was similar to when I was a beginner photographer – I shot everything, babies, animals, families, couples, until I decided to focus on specific types of projects.

My 3 sources of income

I continue to have three sources of business income, the blog, photography, and graphic design – there are other avenues of income I have on the side outside of business that are investments. I can also support myself and my lifestyle if I was not married (I often get asked this and I have been doing this since I left corporate over 10 years ago as a single woman). I don’t think a majority of bloggers or influencers make a full-time living, a lot do it on the side for fun, it really depends on the focus, from sponsored posts, to affiliate links, there are many ways to make social media and blogging work.

Making money through blogging

I began making an income with blogging over the past seven years, and escalating over the past 4 years (where blogging has provided the most income). It has been a great year of natural partnerships, and blogging is my dream job. I can use my marketing, writing and photography skills while helping businesses market.

There were times that I got so busy with paid content that I was getting burnt out. I was happy in some aspects because I created a job for myself outside of an office, but I just didn’t have as much time to sit down and have any random thoughts to share like I used to. I had a fear that brands were looking at my site which meant my content had to be on point all the time. You can imagine how much pressure that can be! It seemed to be more difficult to just sit down and have a thought other than the projects that had looming deadlines. I now have written 1,869 blog posts. I love blogging and sharing comes naturally.

Following what you are passionate about and what you love to do grants so much flexibility – as any person with a career will agree with and especially as an entrepreneur. You know what also makes me happy aside from freedom and creativity, paying the bills!

The reason I left corporate America was to be my own boss as a photographer and graphic designer. I wanted to work on my own terms, with who I want to, doing what I want. Also, I wanted desperately to have the flexibility to take a vacation whenever I wanted.

Really quick, I want to remind you that you can still find happiness and purpose in a cubicle, corporate job, work part-time, or be a stay-at-home mom. Not everyone has to be an entrepreneur.  It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. So when you see the girl boss movement, please don’t think you need to be the boss of anything or have a side hustle. If what you’re doing is enough, it’s enough.

But the blogging/influencer industry – while I absolutely love it, it comes with personal hardship.

I feel blessed that I worked in the corporate world before going out on my own, it provided me with so much knowledge and understanding of B2B. I work with businesses and I believe my experience gives me an advantage on how I approach my collaborations.

Losing friendships + making new ones

Social media has created some loss of friendships over the years that I won’t understand but also won’t dwell on. It can really make people envious if you want to do the same thing, or be very competitive, it’s unfortunate. I hug and kiss those friends in my heart and thank them for our journey together and never know when paths might cross again, that’s the beauty of life. Some people will stay in your life forever, some for a reason and there is never a reason to be upset about it or have expectations on others. Appreciate that friendship is a choice and we continue to walk through life because of all those who have been a part of our journey. (Read this post about what to do when a friend unfollows you).

On another note, my real friends have supported me from the beginning. My friends, parents and hubby of course have taken my photos – every single one of them. They are truly the best and have helped me build my business. They are patient with me, ask if I want a photo taken, take 100 of them until it’s just right. In return I always share my perks with them. One of my best girls flew out to help me with my alumni’s homecoming coverage – which was the biggest career highlight to me, working with my college!

university of arizona blogger Diana Elizabeth covers homecoming featured on uaaa site

FOMO as a blogger/influencer + making new friends

While social media can weed out friendships and sometimes make you feel left out because everyone is posting they’re together and you’re not there, it can also bring new ones, and you can create community. Remember that people aren’t intentionally trying to leave you out, don’t take it personally. Also you can plan your own event and invite them!

Making friends in the blogging industry for me personally, has been easy and I’m so thankful for the women I have met. But I didn’t always feel that way, it can be intimidating but there are a few that really have stood out and extended their friendship and I don’t take it for granted! I have also learned to not have the expectation that I will be best friends with every person I meet  – everyone has limited time and we can still love and have casual friendships and not be disappointed – I have had to remind myself this at my age. We all can be around others and enjoy one another’s company! I have always been an inclusive person so being in the blogging industry was easy for me – to show up when I’m invited, to applaud and support others, and ask girls to coffee.

Social media pressures

You probably can guess there is  pressure with performance in the blogging/influencer world because stats are reported to brands. And sometimes this stuff is out of our control – you might notice that having an IG account too. I find bloggers are so hard on themselves, and it makes me sad because I know I feel that way too sometimes. We are really so hard on ourselves and we can’t even control what makes us feel down. The need to want to feel liked, or suddenly feel like no one likes you like they like your peers is the hardest part of the job.

As a Child of God, I know that my self-worth and purpose is not dependent upon what I do here or what others think of me, my accolades, or even my bank account. So while there have been moments where I wonder if I struggle as a Christian being in the blogging industry, I spin it around and I think, thank goodness I am because I can use God’s word to align my heart and mind when I am struggling in a social pressured and ever changing industry.

When you read, like, comment and share my posts I am thankful because it helps support me that I can take the time to garden and tell you the things I’m learning that are sponsored or not. To me sponsored doesn’t mean the value isn’t still there – I can still share products and important information with you.

Is it too late to go into blogging

I am often asked this and I never think it’s too late to get into anything – people are still becoming photographers and there’s a lot of them out there! I believe your motivation to be a blogger or influencer has to be for the right reason – instead of seeing the possibility of being Instagram-famous and getting free stuff, or making money, you have to actually enjoy creating content for free for possibly years, and have a small audience for years. I did it for years as my other businesses provided a steady income for me to build the other one (blog). Blogging was my creative outlet and then suddenly here I am. You have to have longevity to do this. You may not see a pay off for a while, and maybe, just maybe you will! But the motivation to do it has to be like running a marathon, it’s not a sprint.

A question to ask yourself is, are you following other influencers or reading blogs? Because if you aren’t supporting the industry itself or enjoying it, then you have to ask what your motivation is. I love being inspired by others – especially home decor and garden. If you want people to comment on your blog post or social media post, you should be doing the same and showing love to others too. The community is a two-way street and if you can give more than you take, you’ll find the industry is so kind and rewarding.

The people who are currently influencers that are killing it right now, making a full-time living doing it like myself, have been at it for a loooooong time. It will take so much of your time, but if it fills your cup, do it. If writing, sharing, and social media is fun for you, then by all means yes, do it – it might take a while, but if you are starting for the reason of just having fun, that’s probably the best because you will have longevity which is what it takes to keep going in this industry.

I had no expectations or visions to get to where I am today because where I am today didn’t exist. Just start doing what you love and I bet in a few more years a position that doesn’t yet exist will be yours naturally!

Isn’t that crazy to think? That’s the coolest thing. I still wonder what my next “thing” will be. Isn’t that how you land your dream job, do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life? Only you do work every day for like 14 hours a day but you love it!

The best parts of blogging

I am finally the editor-in-chief of my online magazine! I am living the dreams of my 15-year-old self!  I also have taken on the position of creative director, photographer, accountant, model, marketer and only representative, haha! But I love it, this is entrepreneurship at its finest – wearing all the hats until you are ready to pass off tasks to others.

It gives me a social life with so many fun events and outings, and an excuse to get dressed up.

Yes the free stuff is cool, obviously, but nothing is really free. Honestly, nothing. It all comes with an expectation, an exchange, or 3 follow up emails if you’ve received the free product you didn’t even ask for. I also give my things away to my friends, donate to causes, and give away to readers that stand out because I cannot keep everything I get and I love to be generous with products.

I love being able to talk about what I want, when I want, use the platform to encourage and inspire others, or just give myself an outlet to share. Blogging is what you make of it. I’ve used it to share my life stories, broken past, and I’ve talked on the phone with hurt girls who identify with my story and we bond. I am able to connect with another person, maybe several at a time and that’s what life is about, relationships, connecting, helping, encouraging, right?

I am not a private person – there are a few things I do keep private but when it comes to helping others I’m a bean spiller! I will teach you what to do, how I do it, and what I think would help you or your business. I’m an encourager and so sharing my life online helps fuel my passion and I hope it helps others.

My future in the influencer world

I do hope to be a blogger and work with brands for as long as I possibly can because I genuinely enjoy so much of it – it’s everything I love doing wrapped up in a single job title! I know I’ll probably always have a blog, and this little space (even if blogging is less popular) because I’ve had a web presence since I was 15 and I love to write.

It can be scary being an entrepreneur too, especially if the industry you’re in seems to be shifting fast – I found myself leaving the wedding photography industry just at the right time. And that’s my thing, to always keep a look out for something else. What’s next?

I don’t feel the need to stay in the influencer spotlight at all. I’m OK with disappearing.

But I still enjoy what I do. I also want to add that though I am the accidental influencer, I did work hard. The hobby may have gotten me started without outside pressures, but hard work has kept me in the game. I have had the moments of working long days and weekends to get to where I am. There are days when I work 12 hours, and weeks I am working nonstop.

Then, there are times I take 10 days off to go to France with friends. There are days I don’t put on an ounce of makeup and I’m managing our next home project in pajamas as I monitor hawk eyes 24/7 on every tradesman. But then I come back and I share with my readers what I learned. The blog collaborations pay for my life trials and tribulations I in return share with content.

There’s a time for hustle and there’s time to reap the rewards of already working hard, or in my case, realizing who I am beyond the influencer title. Under that sweatshirt there is an entrepreneur that loves being creative and loves her freedom – and a woman who loves to pour into other women and expand my friendships and deepen relationships. And if you can’t already tell, really loves to write and encourage others.

Only time will tell what comes next in my life and career, but I am sure happy you are here for the ride. I appreciate your time and support over the years and encourage you to pursue what you love and enjoy for the right reasons. Finding a way to create a job for yourself truly doing what you love is so fulfilling. Cheers to a year of pursing what makes your heart happy, without pressures. xx

Photography by Heather Kinkel / Makeup and hair by Lizzy Marsh

Diana Elizabeth has also realized the slow time for blogging is after the holidays and she loves it! She’s been able to focus on other projects and create the content she has had on her to-do list for a while.

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.



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