Behind the Feed: InfluenceHer Collective's College InfluenceHer of the Year, Lena Daniels

You may know 22-year-old Lena Daniels from her self-titled website and blog or her gorgeous Instagram aesthetics, where she posts all about her personal brand, ranging from blogging to photography to graphic design. A recent graduate of the University of Central Florida, Lena wrote for Her Campus for most of her undergraduate career, and now works as a freelance photographer in the Orlando area.

So what's it like to be a millennial influencer, and how did she get where she is today? Courtesy of Lena Daniels

Her Campus: Tell us about your site/platform, and why you launched it.

Lena Daniels: I started taking my Instagram seriously when I was a junior in high school. Back in 2014, influencers were just celebrities and YouTubers – and having a "great feed" was unique. I started taking some photography classes and really planned out how my posts would look next to each other. It brought me so much joy, and it was one thing people always knew about me: "the girl with the cute Instagram page." I got my first sponsorship in 2018 from the IHC, so I guess you could say that was the beginning of my "influencer journey," however my passion for creating and sharing content has been around so much longer than that!

HC: What do you hope your followers get out of following you?

LD: Honestly, I hope I can just bring a smile to their faces! At the end of the day, I want to post photos and share products that make me happy, and hopefully, my followers are along for the ride because they enjoy seeing it, too! Community is a big thing on Instagram, and I love that we've been able to create one together.

HC: What does your week currently entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

LD: Hahaha, it's definitely always different depending on how many projects and campaigns I have going on, but since I work a full-time job and do content creation on the side, I have pretty long days! I work from home Monday through Friday, and I normally start my day at 8am by creating content for my personal page (this could be indoor photoshoots or filming Reels!). I then work my "real" job from 10-6, and sometimes I use the evenings to do on-locations shoots.

I try to take a break from social on weekends to refresh my mind, but a lot of those weekends are dedicated to photoshoots with my amazing and supportive Instagram boyfriend (if he's up for it!). Working from home has been a blessing for my influencer career because without a commute, I can squeeze in more time for creating and if it's sunny during a lunch break, I'll often grab my tripod and get a mini 15-minute shoot in!

HC: What's the best and worst part about being an influencer? 

LD: The best part is being able to talk to so many people every day! I love DMing and getting to know girls like me all around the world! The community is great and it's provided so many networking opportunities. There are girls on Instagram I've never met in real life but consider some of my closest friends. The worst? We're inviting ourselves into the public eye, and not everyone agrees with what we do. I also get a handful of negative DMs any time I post about a difficult decision I had to make and it can get overwhelming. I made the choice to put my life in the spotlight, but sometimes it's the silliest things that I'll get messages about and it makes me question a lot.

HC: What advice would you give to a college woman with similar aspirations?

Create something you love every day. I didn't go into my creative journey looking to make money and become a famous influencer. I knew it was a possibility for sure, but I focused on myself first. I created content that I enjoyed, and all that fun stuff came later. It's frustrating at times when you post something that you love and it doesn't necessarily get the attention you think it deserves, but ride it out and find an audience that loves you for you. Don't conform, because that's when it stops being fun and starts becoming work. And like I mentioned earlier – just create something you love every day. Leaving that super open-ended, because there are no rules to creativity. Once you get in the habit of that, it'll all fall into place.

HC: Is running your platforms your full time job or a side hustle, and why did you make that decision?

LD: Side hustle! I love creating and running my platforms, however, I'm not yet ready for it to be a full-time job. This year is the first year I began monetizing my content, and while I'm so proud of how much I've been able to make so far, I don't think I'd be able to live off of it just yet. Maybe someday soon, but until then it's a great cushion to add to my salary!

HC: How has being an influencer affected your friendships and relationships?

LD: Unfortunately, I don't consider myself to have a lot of in-person friendships. I feel like people think influencers are full of themselves, and while that may be true for some, we're working just as hard at something we love as everyone else. This job just includes pictures of ourselves, like modeling! I'm lucky to have a very supportive boyfriend who always helps with my photos and hypes me up and pushes me to ask for more from brands and an online community that makes me eager to check Instagram, instead of stressed out!

HC: What has been the most surreal thing that’s happened to you as an influencer? 

LD: Winning the IHC's College InfluenceHer of the Year award! This was my second year nominated and I actually had the smallest following of everyone in my category, so when I read that "Congrats!" email, I started bawling! It was a hard year for me with school and personal stuff, but Instagram became an outlet for me to turn to and bring me so much joy, so winning that award completely changed how I viewed being an influencer!

HC: What are your three favorite tools for content creation?

LD: My iPhone tripod, Bluetooth button, and Adobe Lightroom.

HC: What does the future of influencing look like for you? 

LD: Every week I change my mind, so I guess you'll have to keep following to see what's next! I personally hope more travel content, once it's safe to do so!

 

Behind the Feed is a weekly series showcasing a different member of the InfluenceHer Collective every week. Are you an influencer? Apply to join the IHC, and you could be featured in the future!