While fashion and beauty brands looked in the past for nothing but a strong aesthetic, influencer marketing has created the phenomenon of the "lifestyle" icon.
Monique Bowie has amassed over 26,000 followers (and counting) with her mix of beauty, travel, fashion, and fitness, tied together through expert visual storytelling.
In a world that is overwhelmed with lifestyle imagery, we asked her what it takes to become a successful lifestyle influencer, what makes brands want to work with her, and generally the good, the bad and ugly of what it means to be a 21st century social media celebrity.
How long have you been an influencer for?
My following first started to grow in late 2015 and then steadily kept growing since really. I started posting more beach photos and was booking a few modelling jobs here and there so brands were posting images of me and reposting images I tagged.
I’ve been ‘an influencer’ for 3 years now – its been so much fun I’m so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way!
What channels are you big on?
Predominantly Instagram these days. I have my website too, but Instagram is definitely my biggest. It’s also the easiest platform to interact with my followers and being able to split content between posts and stories allows me to share the best snapshots of my life, as well as take my followers along with me to all the moments in between; gym, beach, brekky, sitting in traffic – all the unglamorous things we all do!
What topics are you influential in?
I definitely share a lot of my diet and fitness regime on instagram. Im really active and I love sharing my health/fitness tips and tricks with people. In addition to that, I also work with fashion and beauty labels so I’d say that I’m a bit of a hybrid across health/fitness and lifestyle.
How did you initially start to grow your following?
It started to grow when a couple of photos received a bit more attention on my profile. A few bikini shots from shoots and videos of my workouts were what started it but it’s been a slow and steady process. For me its been a combination of modelling and what I share of my lifestyle on social media that my followers seem to like the most.
How many hours a week do you spend working as an Influencer and all that goes with it?
I post quite a bit and shoot content 2-3 times a week. Every week is different depending on if I have events on or sponsored collaborations to shoot. I suppose, on average, I put 2 hours a day in – but every week is different. I work part time in sports medicine too. I’m always scrolling Instagram and lining up my next posts, I really enjoy it and love interacting with my little community.
Do you take the photos on your own or do you have assistance from someone else?
Both! I shoot with friends here and there, but I also take a lot of my own content. My trainer is great for gym stuff, I’m always with friends at the beach and on weekends – and then I often post content from shoots or events too.
What equipment do you use (Camera/software/editing apps)?
I love my film camera – its just a little point and shoot I picked up. I post professional images where possible after jobs and shoots but I use my iPhone for most of my own images. I edit photos using VSCO and Lightroom but then I also use a multitude of different apps for frames and stencils on images and videos.
Do you have a manager to take care of the business side of things?
I’m signed with Scoop Management for all my modelling jobs and Chic Blogger Management for social media collaborations. Chic Blogger take care of most jobs – they find work for me and look after anything I send on to them from brands approaching me on social media.
What are 2 of your favourite posts that you’ve ever done and why?
The one at Cavo Tagoo one of my favourite posts – it was a beautiful day and such a great memory to have. We had the most incredible lunch there and its something I couldn’t have done without social media to connect me with them and be able to collaborate.
I also did a collaboration with WelleCo’s Super Elixir recently. It wasn’t paid but it’s a brand I’ve bought, used and loved for ages, so being able to work with them was really special. I loved how the photos turned out and the Super Elixir team loved them too.
Do you use any tools to help you manage your account?
I use Instagram insights on the app to keep track of my audience. Its just helpful to know demographics like median age, gender split and when my followers are most active. The business tools and insights are all I really use.
While its helpful to know for some things, ultimately it really only affects when I post rather than what I post.
Do you know the demographics of your following?
My audience demographics are 65% women and 35% men, aged between 18-34 and mostly Australian. Given that I’m a young Australian woman, I think that’s why most of my audience is a similar age and location. A lot of my photos are taken at iconic or recognisable locations in Sydney’s east which I think my audience tend to like – its familiar and accessible to them.
How has your experience been working with brands?
I’ve loved working with the brands I have so far. I’m generally offered and take on jobs that fit well with my lifestyle and the content I post regularly so its been really fun to work with brands I know and love prior to collaborating.
Sometimes things run really smoothly and other times content I submit before posting gets rejected and needs to be re shot, but that’s a part of being a content creator and there’s never been an issue I haven’t been able to amend, on the whole I’ve worked with incredible brands and wonderful people.
What are some of your favourite collaborations and why?
I recently collaborated with Sarah and Sebastian; I’ve always loved their jewellery and was able to select a few really special pieces. I shot it with a friend of mine and the images were really simple but blended my style with Sarah and Sebastians brand guidelines.
Over Summer I worked with Kiehls over a few posts and events. They’ve been my favourite, I became obsessed with the products I was promoting and still use them religiously. They were a fabulous team to work with and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
What are some dream brands you would like to work with?
I’d love to work with a fashion powerhouse like Net-a-porter. They’re unlike most others in the online space and I love scrolling through the website making fantasy shopping carts (lol). Nike would be another one, fitness and lifestyle related.
Honestly, I’ve been so lucky to have worked with brands like Lulu Lemon, Seafolly, Sarah and Sebastian, Tuchuzy etc that are all dream brands to work with.
What advice would you give to brands looking to work with influencers?
Choose influencers for their content and their audience. At the end of the day, aligning with the right person and producing content that benefits both parties is what communicates the message most effectively to your audience and ultimately drives conversions as well as building brand awareness and engagement.
People are pretty savvy with what they see on social media - collaborations and brand alignments with the right influencer are well received by the consumer.
How do brands generally contact you?
I get a lot from brands emailing me, and through Instagram direct messenger – but Chic Blogger also obtain and manage jobs and events for me.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to become an influencer?
Share and speak about something you really love and believe you’re influential in. I’ve always been active, loved cooking and eating well – so for me its as simple as sharing snapshots of my lifestyle. If you’re into photography, food, art, whatever it is, be consistent and maintain your own style. Post creative content and be the trail blazer!
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