“Instagram is the most quantifiable--you see immediately how many people are liking. I always think it’s like I’m competing in a competition every day of the week.” - Isaac Hindin-Miller.
A smart phone, a good photographer and an ability to identify your personal brand are just some of the keys required to succeed as a ‘digital influencer.’ But what is the reality behind the images and what kinds of pressures exist for those who play the numbers game on Instagram?
Between them, tight-knit siblings Katherine and James K. Lowe have amassed nearly 170k followers on the visual social media platform and it’s a big deal. These are the kind of numbers that draw brands and designers to work with them. In August Katherine worked as a stylist for Kate Sylvester’s show at Marr Factory; a fashion event in Auckland run by hair stylist Stephen Marr while brother James was busy shooting Karen Walker’s Marr Factory show, and also shot her recently released eyewear campaign Pool Side.
Although the pair are comfortable working alongside the country’s biggest names in the fashion industry they remain adamant that it all ‘just happened.’ They shrug off the numbers accumulating at the top of their Instagram accounts, but are also hyper-aware of themselves and their personal brands.
James’ Instagram profile features photographs that he’s shot for designer campaigns, the odd picture of food or a pair of trainers, and yes behind the scenes ‘real’ life photographs of him hanging out with his girlfriend the one and only LORDE. While Katherine’s account is all about healthy food, friends and fitness with a laid-back minimal approach to personal style that also translates into her styling for photo shoots, think: hair tucks, caps, trainers and sweatshirts.
“We were early adopters [and] it was good timing” - Katherine Lowe
Neither James or Katherine had a master plan, but both recognize that opportunities have come as a result of Katherine’s blog ‘Katherine is Awesome’; a place where she shares her highs and low(es) and continues - as she did when she started - styling shoots with models and getting James to photograph them.
Running the blog for around 6 years now she isn’t as motivated as she used to be: “I’ve got this love hate thing with it” she says. Adding to that she feels frustrated at having to deal with other people’s demands and expectations with people sending in emails requesting contacts for fashion PR companies and questions about how to get free clothes.
On the other side of the blogging coin is New York-based style blogger Isaac Hindin-Miller who was recently flown back to New Zealand as an international delegate for New Zealand Fashion Week. He’s warm, friendly and down-to-earth, just as his blog persona on ‘Isaac likes’ suggests. Shifting from writing to making a living as a personal style blogger came to fruition after shifting to New York four years ago.
The only way that it became viable for bloggers to make money was through personal style” - Isaac Hindin-Miller
To continue with his writing Isaac began working as a contributor for the New York Times - a game changer that opened up other doors including writing for GQ Magazine, Esquire, Business of Fashion, and of late, writing relationship advice for Leandra Medine’s renowned Man Repeller.
But Isaac maintains that writing for high profile publications doesn’t necessarily drive traffic to his own website.
“My business model has changed a lot because I wanted to be a journalist [and] I wanted to write for these publications, but now I’ll do it just to keep my name at that level of the publication, because when you’re writing for a publication you’re building their brand, it’s not about yourself”.
Isaac is hard-working, ambitious and loves having his photograph taken which is prefect for the nature of his job. Growing an audience is also vital to keeping him afloat in a highly competitive industry where bloggers are competing for the same opportunities -being dressed by designers and then showing the looks online. The down side of his job is that he never leaves the office and his iPhone is an essential tool that never leaves his side.
“What’s changed now is that it used to be that you wrote a blog, but now you write a blog, you’ve got Twitter, Instagram... Instagram is a good 20-hours a week of what I do now. There’s all these different channels that you have to be active in and that you have to have an engaged audience on” - Isaac Hindin-Miller
Isaac cites travel as an important aspect of style blogging because it showcases the idea of an ‘aspirational lifestyle'.
“You don’t see the tears behind the scenes” he laughs.
Check out Isaac on Instagram here.
Listen to the audio story to hear Isaac’s Instagram tips and why his favourite clothes are the pieces he buys himself.