Lydia Violeta is a student influencer who has built her brand around study advice, showing student life, and giving an authentic account of her life. I thought I would like to have a conversation with her, away from cameras and her own channel, to ask her some questions about what life is really like for her. I was not expecting her to be any different to how she is over her social media, but I wanted to get her slightly away from her brand and just allow her to be Lydia.
I asked her how she had acquired her platform and what she used it for, and she explained: “So now I use my platform to document my student life, a bit of a video diary, I guess. It started when I was doing my GCSE’s and I began sharing images of my revision notes, as I loved to make pretty mind maps and flashcards”.
She continued, “I shared them on Instagram and then branched out to videos about how I revise, and my tips for motivation and productivity. People seemed to enjoy it and find it helpful, and I felt passionate about it because I enjoyed it too.”
“When I found out I could help people as well, it made it more rewarding for me, and it was amazing to be able to enjoy what I was doing and help people at the same time. It transitioned towards more balanced content when I moved into my A-Level and University years. I aim for balanced content now. I still show my studies, but I also like to show a more balanced overview of what student life is like.”
When asked about the moment at which Lydia knew this hobby she had created for herself had the potential to become a career, she was very clear in still seeing influencing and creatorship as something to be enjoyed rather than a full-time job.
She told me: “I would still call it a hobby because I do it now for the same reasons I did when I started. But there becomes a point in your growth where you get reached out to by brands and that leads to more financial incentives.”
“Influencing officially became my job when I was approached by my now manager, and I signed with Studio71, an agency, in June 2018. That is when you start to partner with brands for content and you can earn an income as you grow. Having said that, it feels the same as when I started because I still do it for those same reasons: creating, and wanting to help people.”
I asked Lydia about how she manages to balance her university studies with her job, and wondered whether one ever ends up taking precedence over the other. She pondered the question for a moment, before reassuring both herself and me that she finds them to work well together.
She said, “My degree and my influencing are pretty entwined, and I believe they complement each other well. I never go out of my way to film anything, I have built my brand on filming whatever I am genuinely up to, whether that is travelling in the summer, or exam season, a bit of a fun vlog if I’m going somewhere. In that way, it never feels like I am doing anything unnatural, and it never feels like it takes more time than it should because I am simply filming what I’m doing.”
“Having said that, obviously editing is an extremely time-consuming aspect of content creation. That can become harder to balance because at University I am obviously adhering to deadlines, but I also have these internal deadlines on a weekly basis. There’s no pressure for me to do it every week, but I love to stay consistent, and I enjoy filming every week.”
“However, sometimes when you have actual university deadlines and that, it can become a little bit much. Most of the time it’s fine, I am used to it, and I am lucky that the two big aspects of my life do complement each other so well.”
I was curious to see what Lydia felt about hate, trolling and general “cancel culture” which has permeated many online platforms today. She was keen to talk about her attitudes towards these things, and said, “I feel there is only one way around this kind of thing, and that is to ignore it.”
“What I’ve learned, is that people will always have a problem with what you are doing. You could do anything on the internet and people will find a way to criticise it. From that, I have learnt to just do what it is that I want to do. If it’s the case that people always have an issue with what you are doing, you may as well do what makes you happy.”
“Having said that, it is probably easier said than done to just ignore it. It’s very hard, and your brain can become filled with other people’s opinions, so when I find that I am in that mindset, I love to journal or speak to friends and family. I like to talk things through objectively and I find that that helps me to push through those cloudy moments; rationalise and realise that those things don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.”
I wondered how useful it has been to Lydia, a successful self-employed woman at the age of 20, to have female role models in a similar career to her. She took the opportunity to tell me, “It’s been so important to me. I think sometimes it can be projected on social media that it is a sociable career path. People think you are always surrounded by other people, going to loads of events, but it is quite solitary.”
“When I first started, I was 16 and had no idea what I was doing. No one can teach you, there were no courses to help, and having those guiding figures really helps.” Lydia then continued, “you know, when I started the term ‘influencing’ wasn’t even really in circulation, I just liked watching these people on the internet. In that way, it is all still really new.”
Moving on from how useful Lydia finds having female role models, I asked her about specific people who inspire her. She began, “I feel like this is a well-known fact about me, but I find Grace Beverly to be really inspiring. I wouldn’t say I idolise her as I am aware of her controversies and her brand’s controversies, but I admire her. As a person, I think she is pretty transparent about the ups and downs of being a female entrepreneur.”
“Now, there is such a glamourisation of “hustle culture”, which I disagree with completely. It’s not useful, it is toxic. With Grace Beverly, who recently started making content again, she doesn’t do that. Most of her day is literally just her sitting there at her dining room table, doing her business. She doesn’t make herself out to lead this amazing lifestyle, she doesn’t feed into the toxicity of never sleeping, taking time off or not socialising, she is just authentic with her journey, and I admire that fact about her.”
Lydia is currently on a year abroad, studying in Copenhagen, so I thought I would offer her the opportunity to explain how and why she chose that as her location for the year. Being very transparent about the Covid pandemic and how this had affected her initial plans, she told me; “Originally I wanted to go to Australia, and I was pretty much set on going there, but when it came to me applying for study abroad, the country closed their borders. I looked into where was going to have their borders open and I thought Europe was a safer bet. I’d still love to do Australia another time, maybe after university, but for my year abroad, Europe just offered that slight bit of comfort, especially when Covid was at its peak.”
“I decided on Copenhagen because it was recommended to me. I was involved in the start-up of Leeds Finsights and two of the other management board members, Alfie and Phil, had been there. I was hearing a lot of things they said about Copenhagen, and it all appealed to me. Aside from how great the business school seemed, the way of life, the values, it just seemed a great fit for me.” I went on to ask her if it was everything she expected it to be, and she answered simply, telling me that; “It is definitely living up to my expectations, I love it here.”
From watching Lydia’s YouTube videos and the content she creates online, it is noticeable that she speaks a lot about not fitting into the typical “student” trope. I was curious to discover how she found this out about herself. She said, “I think we go into University with so many expectations and phrases we are told by our family members and friends. Do whatever fits you if you enjoy it, but I was so focused on fulfilling those expectations that I lost sight of what makes me happiest.”
“I think I spent my first two years of Uni so fixated on what I should be doing, that it was only when I got to Copenhagen and I was living on my own for the first time, in a completely new environment, that I realised, being outside of Leeds, that I didn’t actually know what I enjoyed.”
Speaking candidly about a shift in her mindset, Lydia then said, “after a few weeks of feeling really disassociated, I was in a really strange mindset, I had to sit down, pen and paper in hand and journaled. I distinguished between what I thought I liked and what I did like. It was a very internal process, but I concluded it by making a simple list of priorities and what makes me happiest.”
“Ever since then I have lived by that list and if something isn’t on the list, I won’t do it. Ever since I have done that, I have been so much happier. I had a very intense feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) as well, however, upon reflection, I realised I’m not missing out by saying no to something I don’t enjoy, I am actually just making more space for those things I do like.”
On a more light-hearted note, I asked her how she was feeling about returning to Leeds and whether she was nervous about it. “I think I am nervous but only because I feel so detached being out here, that I will have to culturally adapt again. It is a weird feeling, my friends are all still in the same place where I lived for two years, and I’m not, so it is a bit of a weird sensation in that way. Almost like one of those dreams where you watch things happen, but you aren’t really that involved.”
“I love it here, and I think I needed this year to learn these things. It’s been a wake-up call that I don’t think I would have had otherwise. I now know what to implement for when I’m back, to make my final year the best it can be.”
Ending our conversation, I asked Lydia about any advice she would give to other young women who wanted to pursue influencing. She told me her main advice would always be, “Just be yourself. Sometimes there is a temptation to act like someone you’re not and try to be the next so and so. Your selling point if you pursue it, is you. There are no two yous, so just focus on being as authentic as you can and be yourself.”
Lydia can be found through-
- Her YouTube channel: Lydia Violeta
- Instagram: @lydiavioleta_
- Twitter: @lydiavioleta_
Words by: Maeve Wood
Edited by: Ava Heeney