Life Update: What I’ve learnt from 9 years in the blogger and influencer scene

I feel like it’s been forever, since I have written a blogpost here. Especially a  really, honest and deep one from the bottom of my heart.

Soon it was 9 years ago that I started this website, originally started as an attempt to expand my CV and to have something to show my future employer. When I finished high school in 2009 I first wanted to become a fashion editor for a  large publishing house.. But then everything turned out very different!

Who would have thought that nine years later I would not only be able to live off it well, but also have the opportunity to start my own businesses, hire people myself and make a name for myself as a blogger or nowadays also an influencer and build up my own brand.

The Blog Development: From Unpaid, Unreflected Posts To Planned Profitable Collaborations

When I started blogging, there was neither Instagram nor paid collaborations, the Influencer Business was not even a household name, and there were only a handful of bloggers in Germany that wrote about their lives, their style, or just their thoughts, uploaded their shitty mirror selfies or took outfit pictures with an entry-level camera model.

Back then, I just wrote about whatever came to my mind, I took  simple pictures and uploaded what I found somehow beautiful, entertaining or inspiring. I reported on my life, my studies, my outfits, my internships or events and just posted about it similar to a diary. Without filters, without hour-long editing, without a thousand apps and many sceptical thoughts, if I can post it or not, if it’s professional enough for brands and will get enough likes and comments from my audience.

Nowadays, it’s a different game. My blog is almost non-existent, because I hardly post anymore, because the readers and followers are now on Instagram or Youtube. The companies barely pay for blog posts, but rather for Instagram pictures, stories and me as a brand ambassador. The ease Instagram once had when it was just a simple photo platform where you shared pictures with the public, with wild heart-frames, vintage filters, and mirrored selfies is gone today.

Back when only a few people used Instagram all privately and the companies did not even have their own profiles, I did not really think about why a mirror selfie could look ‘unprofessional’ or my daily recipes or my food from the restaurant might not be picturesque enough.

In the beginning I didn’t even know, that Instagram was a public social media platform and that random people could follow you. I simply used it to put a frame or filter on my private holiday pictures.

After all, nothing has really changed – it is still known for beautiful filters and great vintage effects. With the only difference that Instagram now focuses on the media distribution platform, but not necessarily the tools and filters anymore. It turned into a social empire that has us all addicted in one way or another.

The Evolution Of Instagram

It’s nothing new, you just show the beautiful sides of life, take 300 pictures and post the one where you find yourself beautiful, skinny enough, where the hair sits, the ice in your hand matches the outfit, where the ocean can be made even more turquise with editing apps, where the outfit sits perfectly and you can show how happy you are with your partner, your children or your new home.

I do not mind that Instagram is very positive about life and that everyone usually only posts the most beautiful pictures is completely understandable, I do it myself. Meanwhile, I even tell everyone in our Blogger Workshop courses and seminars that they should see Instagram as their CV. You only show what you can do best, what you stand for and believe in and who you are or would like to be. Drunken party pictures, emotional pictures of break-ups and fights do not really match with the fancy fake world of Social Media – or does it?

The New Medium: Podcasts And What We All Should Learn From Riccardo Simonetti

In the last few weeks I’ve been adding some new podcast episodes , because that’s actually one of the projects that I’ve finally implemented after being on my to-do list for almost 2 years.

My podcast ‘The Ehfar Theory – Everything Happens For A Reason‘ is finally available for free on iTunes, Anchor, Spotify and all sorts of other platforms – so far only in German though. Let me know, if you are interested in an English version as well, as I’ve been playing with that thought for a while but am not sure if the demand is big enough.

My last interview is with a good friend of mine and blogger colleague Riccardo Simonetti. We met more than 5 years ago at a blogger event in Munich and have run into  each other ever since and always have the best unexpected profound conversations.

I have to admit, one thing I’ve always  admired about him is, how much he has stayed true to himself and how he is standing up for himself. He lives by his vision, his (for some maybe overbearing or crazy) dreams and his way of life. He does not pretend, he celebrates life and gives a sh** when not everyone loves him. He is openly gay and has a flamboyant personality and extravagant style and is arguably an even bigger Britney Spears fan than I ever was 🙂

Exactly that is my problem. I (still) want to be loved by everyone.

I want to please everyone, which is completely unrealistic and simply impossible. I know that too, and yet I keep getting caught up in listening and caring too much for criticism and feedback. Which, to be honest, also made me who I am today. Even in my early days, I answered almost every comment, responded to every message, and reacted to your feedback, ideas, questions and suggestions. Although I have always had a very strong opinion on most things and will back up myself, if I believe in something a hundred percent, I always try to please most people.

My Breakthrough In 2013: Shopping Queen And How Things Have Changed Since My TV Debut

Shopping Queen is a hugely successful German TV Show, where 5 different women from the same city get 500 € each and 4 h time to shop the perfect outfit for a certain topic and occasion. Whoever gets most points presenting their look, wins the show and some money. It’s on TV in the afternoon for one hour for one full week and reaches my perfect target audience: young and middle aged girls and women who are interested in fashion and lifestyle. After I was on the TV show, my blog literally exploded and I had half a million unique visitors that January in 2013 and since then have grown my audience extremely thanks to the huge TV reach and promotion of my blog and personality.

However, with the ‘fame’ and exposure there was something else I’ve never experienced that way before: HATE.

 I have experienced for the first time, how real online ‘hate’ and groundless nasty comments feel like and that I can never be everyone’s darling. With Shopping Queen, I’ve reached an incredible number of new followers, viewers, readers, and people within a week. Many found me ‘interesting, sympathetic and inspirational’, but there were as many who called me ‘arrogant, spoiled and stupid’. In the end, it was an amazing experience and I learned so much about TV, speaking in front of a camera, how to do interviews and how to separate constructional criticism from useless envious comments.  The best compliment, however,  has always been when someone told me:

I’ve followed you since Shopping Queen and to be honest, I didn’t really like you in the beginning and thought you were annoying and spoiled, but somehow I was still interested and followed you. And now I actually love what you do and who you are! You work for everything you have and it’s so inspiring to see you talk about your dreams and motivate me. You’re so much more than just a few nice outfits and a colour-coordinated wardrobe.

Even today, I am extremely happy about such comments, as they somehow radiate a little ‘in your face’, ‘told you so’ and of course are affirmation. Convincing someone to show you that you are, indeed,  ‘cool’, ‘nice’, ‘successful’ or ‘authentic’ is certainly something for everyone. And yet, just in the podcast talk with Riccardo, I realised once again that it’s not about being liked by everyone. If I’m honest with myself, I probably would not be where I am today, or simply irrelevant, if I was everyones darling.

We all know the saying ‘Bad PR is Good PR’, because sometimes it’s actually more important to be relevant and rather edgy and polarising, than sweet, plain and boring.

If I am really honest, I much prefer to follow people who have their own opinions, who sometimes stand for something provocative and extraordinary, and get criticised for it, to a grey mouse who says yes to everyone and everything, just to be liked.

What We Can Learn From A Radio Host That Hates Dogs 

For another podcast episode of mine, I interviewed radio presenter Julia of Energy 97.1 in Hamburg and she told me that her ‘breakthrough’ came after she dropped a very extreme statement in one of her first live shows. She said, that she does not like dogs. Which is pretty extreme in Germany, because almost all people like dogs and you immediately think ‘how cruel, how can you not like dogs’? But that’s what has brought her incredible attention – certainly not only positive, but she has made a name for herself:

“Isn’t that the girl, that had the guts to say, she doesn’t like dogs?”.

At the same time, she has gained an incredible number of real ‘fans’, as many others also love it, when someone just honestly says their opinion – especially with the knowledge that this might not appeal to everyone.

Social Media Before Money Came Along And How It Has Changed Me Personally 

What I have personally taken from these recent conversations is that I somehow have to find myself back to social media. I started the blog for myself, not for others, then came out with outfits, personal stories, tips, tricks and my ‘infamous’ Follow Me Around videos – long before Snapchat or Insta-Stories existed.

Sometimes, I actually miss this time.

But then again, I’m also grateful for how well I’ve progressed, how professional and high-quality everything has become, and I’m proud that the term ‘blogging’, ‘social media’ and ‘influencer’ is even a term for my grandparents nowadays. As in almost all areas, with progress and development, there’s always some melancholy and a few bitter things.

Social Media Detox: Why I Took 10 Days Off For The First Time In 9 Years

This blog post is more so a reminder for me, than you. I just had to sit down and take my time – for my thoughts and my blog. Because on this platform I can write what I want, can upload when I want without paying attention to an algorithm, views or likes. I’m so happy with my private life as far as my relationship, my little family with our dog Leo and the new apartment in Hamburg are concerned, but as far as the professional side is concerned, I’m just a bit lost. Yesterday I came across a very interesting question in this regard: 

‘What and Who are you without your job?’

What do I stand for, what really defines me and who am I, if I do not define myself by my profession. I still remember, as I said back in 2012 to my boyfriend at the time, ‘my blog is my baby’ after he asked me what I would do without my blog and if it was gone. Today, it may not be the blog anymore, but rather the insta stories or my entire social media presence.

My job is my life, I define myself through it, I’m proud, ambitious, motivated, but also confused, stressed and sometimes moody because of it.

Isn’t it sad, that so many of us are defining ourselves through our job and our work? Or is it great and we should be proud of ourselves that we love our work and give it such a high priority in our lives? Let me know in the comments! You know, I love the exchange and find it particularly interesting to hear about you guys regarding this topic. Whether blogger, influencer or simply consumer, let me know your thoughts.

Another interesting thought came from myboyfriend Dan, which – to be honest – I stole already for one of my podcast episodes, sorry babe 😉

Whose Approval Do You Seek?

Who do you want to impress? Whom do you have in mind when you do certain things, who do you think about when you post pictures or tell certain stories? Is it your parents, your friends, acquaintances, old classmates, your former crush that you want to ‘prove wrong’, your followers, complete strangers?

The answer varies for everyone. Even with me it is different. In certain areas, it is clearly my parents, in others Dan, in other areas people with whom I have absolutely nothing to do. And that’s the terrifying thing!

I am sure that each one of us knows someone whom he does not like too, but still follows everything they do online or care about, what this person thinks of you. But where does this come from?

Why do we want to impress people, that we don’t even like?

Why do we want the recognition of people who do not play an important role in our lives? Why can we not learn to do something for US and nobody else? A little healthy selfishness doesn’t hurt anybody..

I just did some research on praise, recognition and appreciation and came across a very interesting article from german Zeit magazine, which deals with recognition:

“Social Recognition is a basic need like eating and drinking, without it human kind cannot exist. Humans (…) lose themselves in foreign claims, because they think, they will only be loved if they adapt to their surroundings.”

Moreover, it’s all about self love and about accepting yourself:

“To acknowledge oneself starts to perceive oneself (…) many people with low self-esteem are panting after others to make everything right for everyone, and no longer see themselves.”

Personally, I also know this behaviour from friends of mine and sometimes even myself, though I would say that most Leos are more likely to have a healthy self-esteem and are a bit selfish. While I often want to please my followers, I insist on my opinion when it comes to my job or relationship arguments and am often stubborn and rather see what works best for me and my life.

Why (Healthy) Selfishness Is Important

When I met Dan beginning of 2016, one of his first sentences was:

“Sometimes you have to be selfish, in order to be selfless.”

At first I was a bit surprised by this statement and did not know what he meant, but after he explained his theory to me, I thought ‘cool’, this guy even thinks it’s good, if I put a lot of emphasis on me and how I feel 🙂 In the end, it’s about most people chasing an ideal or an idea and wanting to make everyone happy and content, but that often makes you lose yourself and is not selfish enough to follow your own dreams, at times.

Sometimes it can be good to pay a little attention to yourself, to see what is best for you. Of course you should not go over dead bodies or being stone cold and always decide for your own benefit, but sometimes it is good, if you first take care of yourself and make sure you are happy – to then have enough energy and love to spread and take care of others even better. What do you think? Is this a concept you can agree to? 

In the end, everyone is responsible for their own lives and it is up to us, to decide how to handle downfalls, positive events and emotional issues.

We decide how much time we spend on somebody else’s dreams, before realising that this person may just be exploiting us or returning no value.

Nevertheless, it is also a matter of perception – how do we want to be seen? As someone who is ‘egotistical, but goes his own way, does not let anyone dissuade him and believes in himself, but at times seems a little cold or distant’, or do we love the idea of others perceiving us as ‘generous, warm and someone who sacrifices their own happiness for others’ too much to take the risk to sometimes say no!?

No One Sees You, The Way, You See Yourself

Maybe it’s a little bit of everyting. What is exciting about this is, that nobody sees and perceives us as we perceive ourselves. Everyone has a different picture of you in their head, when they think of you, your attributes and your character. Everyone perceives statements, actions, and even the same  situation differently and forms his own version of you. Both your parents, your friends, or even your partner will be conditioned to other things, add weight to certain details, and describe yourself differently. There are always certain personality traits that repeat themselves and that most of them would probably agree on, but:

The idea of the person you see yourself as, only exists in your head.

Pretty crazy, right? If you really think about it, it only shows you how important it is not to rely too much on the opinions of others.

However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t care at all. Often we have a few people in our life whose opinions are more important to us than others. That’s fine, because some people know us better than others, and it’s easier to accept criticism from them, because we know that they usually want to help us improve. I always find it exciting to be evaluated by friends or people that know me very well and ask them things like:

“What do you like about our friendship, why am I a good – or maybe even a bad friend – what do you like about me and where could I improve in your eyes?”.

At the same time, such honest words hurt most from the people we know best. Because we trust them, their opinion matters to us, we want to be liked by them and ‘need’ the affirmation, the praise or just a few nice words.

Which brings us back to the former question: whose recognition are you looking for? Once you have an answer to that, you can dedicate yourself to the why. Because, actually, it does not matter that much who we want to impress, but rather why. This topic is endless, and some are concerned with these issues for a lifetime. It was important for me to get back to myself and my personal competencies, dreams and long-term goals, that’s why I decided to take a little Social Media break. I was doing a food detox in Austria and suddenly it hit me and I got super emotional, couldn’t stop crying, had an anxiety attack, when I read and realised that 90% of the symptoms I could find for ‘burn out’ were actually things I had or experiences regularly. Right then I decided it was time, for a little break to re-set and recharge the batteries of my body and soul.

How  To Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

As you know, I’m a big fan of to-do lists, bucket-lists, goal-setting and addirmations. That’s why last year I also released my first yearly planner ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’ with Stilnest, since I’ve been using notebooks and calendars for years to become aware of my own dreams and goals and to manifest these in written form. From an initial New Year’s tradition I’ve been doing fro years, I now often write little thoughts or good ideas in my Iphone or planner and think constantly think about what I want to achieve and create in the upcoming months.

Some call it ‘The Secret’, others ‘The Universe’, ‘The Law Of Attraction’ or God. They have one thing in common: If you know what you want and you visualise it and really believe in it, it will come your way. Don’t forget to work for it though!

In October my second yearly positive ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’  calendar and dreams planner drops, in September I release a stripped-down pocket version for your next travel destinations and travel goals with lots of helpful tips, chek-lists and recommendations to keep you well prepared and ready for new adventures. You can take a closer look at the travel planner and preorder it here, if you like.

Traveling has always been one of my favourite things. Back in 2009, when I started my blog, I had already been to almost 30 countries (I think I’m around 60 now). In the following years, when I was a poor student who didn’t have much money to spend, I mainly used couchsurfing, cheap hostels and backpacking. Nowadays, I sometimes splurge myself with a business class flight or a luxury 5 star hotel. But no matter how comfortable or luxurious the journey is, I usually have the best experiences on my spontaneous, low-budget trips. I’ve learned so many exciting things, met some of my best friends while traveling, and finally, in January 2016, met my long-awaited (and written down) boyfriend in Australia on one of those ‘bucket-list’ journeys I wanted to cross off my list, and never return to.

Right now, I’m sitting in the plane on the way back from Australia to Hamburg, to our new home. Somehow crazy, considering that until 2 years ago I never really had much interest in Australia and have always been more of an ‘American Girl’ and now I’ve been to my boyfriend’s home for the 6th time in 30 months ‘at the other end of the world’. If somebody had told me back then, that I would have an Australian boyfriend and live with him in Germany and have a dog with him – I would have laughed and not believed it 🙂 But that’s life. No matter how much you plan it, write down your ‘wishes’, design your life and work for it, in the end it always comes different, but exactly how it’s supposed to be.

What I Learnt From Being Offline For 10 Days

In case,  you’re still reading this and haven’t already dropped out: thank you and congratulations 🙂 Let’s get to the exciting part that will probably interest you the most: how do I feel after 10 days without Instagram, Insta Stories, thousands of daily DMs, emails and news. What did I learn, what have I missed and what will I change?

I have to admit, I would like to extend my offline time even a bit further, but after 10 days of vacation in (really cold) Australia, work calls again and I have to get back to the online world. However, I did indeed capture some exciting things and have taken away  a few things from these last couple days in Australia, without mobile phones, reception and social media. First of all:

I deleted Instagram. There was no way I would have been able to resist otherwise.

Granted, Australia is pretty much the best place for me to be off-line, as my fancy world-wide mobile phone contract only works in Europe and America, but not in Asia and Oceania. Thus, one problem was eliminated from the beginning, that of the constant online existence and the ‘boredom in between’ when we all ‘just for a few seconds’ pick up the phone to then find ourselves four hours later to watch the 30th youtube video on some kind of topic we would never have searched for in the beginning. On top of that, in Australia, we were 10 hours ahead of everyone (and work) in Europe and therefore only a few people were online when we were. Of course that makes it much easier.

NOTE: This next last part might be a little rough to read, since I already spent 4h on translating this long-ass text from German to English, I will have to go over this last part again. But for now, I will see my dog again and meet up with two super old friends from school. Back to reality and real life, I would say 🙂 I’ll finish the text tonight. xx

Shortly before my offline challenge, I got the tip from my friend Julia to delete all social media apps from my phone during my social media detoxes, because you automatically go into the apps and only shortly afterwards noticed what you just because of habit makes. At first, I was still confident that this would not happen to me and that I was strong enough, but shortly afterwards I had to realize that after years of daily routine it was almost impossible not to click on the many small notifications, pop-ups and comments if they pimp or suggest that unread and unopened news in each app is waiting for you.

After I deleted Instagram with a heavy heart (only the app, not my Instagram account @luisalion), I actually started to automatically click on the next social media app in my phone, which suggested that I had new news. And so I was on facebook for months, I looked at pictures of ex-schoolmates, long forgotten friends and videos of weddings, where I did not even know where I know this person at all. After realizing that I was back in the process of wasting my time online and looking at unimportant things, I put down my phone, got up, and started enjoying my offline life.

One could have easily confused me with a zombie.

Why use make-up, if you do not have to film yourself? Why put on clothes when it is freezing cold outside and you do not have to take pictures anyway? Why take the phone with you and check all the time, if you can not get any messages anyway and people know that you are not online? And so Dan and I spent the last 10 days in Sydney 90% in gorgeously warm clothes inside (because it was too windy, cold and unnecessary to go out) and did: NOTHING.

What a strange feeling. At first I found it incredibly hard not to check in the morning and in the evening, what my friends, acquaintances and frenemies did on Instagram, how many Likes got my last picture, how many new followers and how many of them went. I checked my emails several times a day and could hardly believe that only a few newsletters, emails and occasional inquiries came in and thought first that the wifi would not work properly. Until I realized that most people deliberately left me alone. Giving me my space, wishing me well for my time off, and being able to leave my cell phone in the daytime, as there were more important things in offline life than any small messages on my screen. I unpacked my laptop exactly once and turned it on just to write on my book, after a long conversation with Dan, when I was suddenly overcome with the desire to write down my thoughts.

I puzzled (a beautiful, really difficult 1000s sunset view of Sydney Harbor and Harbor Bridge), ate, slept a lot, talked to my fellow humans, was never as likely as I’ve ever been on the phone, and had a total of 3 with Dan (!! ) Squad ‘Shooter’ on Netflix searched by 🙂 It was cool!

I could easily get used to this absolute nothingness!

I have to say, I was a little surprised myself how easy it was for me to simply ignore Instagram and Co. and ignore it. Dan continued to be online from time to time, occasionally watching and making stories (which I did not see myself for the first time), and yet I was not even interested in what my favourite instagramers and colleagues were doing. I was just concentrating on myself, reading a complete 500 pages book, talking to friends and having eaten warm food in restaurants for ages, without forever filming, photographing and draping. Sometimes I was a little scared myself that I had forgotten it. Something has not happened to me for ages!

If you still remember my Follow Me Arounds or Mjunik episodes and videos, or even my Instastories, you know that normally I’m not distracted from filming. Whether unvarnished, super tired or even drunk at the party – I always film, automatically. But after a few days I did not even think about it anymore. But there were also moments when I really wanted to ‘talk’ to you, share my thoughts with you online via Insta-stories, started filming ‘uploading it later after my break’ and really missed to produce content , Until I realised that it is idiotic to ban something that I really enjoy.

Compared to my other weeks and holidays, there are really incredibly few pictures on my phone from the last few days. Somehow a liberating feeling, when you have hardly anything to post, no fixed jobs scheduled and can just focus on his friends, family and his partner. Above all, Dan noticed that I had given him a lot more attention at the food and in restaurants or bars because I was not distracted with my phone and with what I could film next.

Personally, I especially noticed that I usually just ‘get started on it’ and really share all sorts of things, thoughts and tips with you without thinking about it. What makes my Instastories on the one hand certainly very authentic and honest, but sometimes just to 30 min. lead long sequences. What I have been testing in the last few days is from time to time filming things that I find ‘important, interesting or exciting’ to then wait a day and see if I would still upload the story. Honestly, I’ve noticed that sometimes I really share unnecessary things with you and really am incredibly busy the day I’m sharing things with you that are actually part of my private life. However, that does not mean that I will stop posting long Insta stories or share things with you, but I just want to be more aware and active in filtering what really has added value or relevance.

Life Through A Camera Lense

Especially other bloggers and influencers, but also ordinary social media users will know the feeling that sometimes you look at pictures or videos and completely forgot to have done them. I think every one of us in today’s smartphone world knows the feeling of sometimes living his life through the lens of the phone. Especially when you do a lot of filming, you often do not take things around you 100%, but you simply film them quickly without really enjoying the moment.

Although, of course, I made a few pictures and videos at the wedding of our best friends in Sydney, I actually noticed that I have the day more intense than usual and, above all, in memory. My friends know that I really do not have a good memory and think again and again, I would fool them when I tell them that I could not remember the day or the and the story – even if sometimes the day before has happened. Sometimes I’m actually scared to get Alzheimer’s at some point, because it’s really scary, which makes me forget everything. But somehow I also believe that it is simply because I have been documenting my life almost every day for 9 years now. Be it through pictures, videos or stories. I think my brain thinks sometimes easy, ‘you’ve filmed anyway, the memory I can delete’ 🙂 Although that is probably a completely weak-minded explanation for my forgetfulness and my partially bad listening, it shows me how much I in the last few years ‘outsourced’ to my camera lens.

What I Want To Change In The Future (Learnings)

What I really liked in the last few days more or less without a cell phone and Oflline is that there is a time to deal with other things. The many hours a day I usually spend answering comments and direct messages I could suddenly use to read my book, talk to friends, or just think about what I’m up to and what I’m up to in the coming weeks and years Would like to do for months.

Everyone should take a week off of social media and either put the phone on flight mode or just leave it at home.

I’ll try to get used to dropping Instagram and stuff once a week, or simply leaving the phone on flight mode, so I can focus on myself and my real life. I also want to try to bring more creativity to my offline life, be it writing, painting, jigsaw puzzles, reading, or just getting out in the fresh air – the ideas and discussions I’ve had over the past few days have shown me How often we are half-hearted and how often we are distracted by our smartphone.

BAM! What a novel! I have just looked into Word and I have actually written a full 10 full DIN A4 pages and zugetextet with my thoughts and experiences. I want to thank you for your incredible attention, love and feedback. Thank you so much for respecting my Oflline time and I look forward to being able to communicate with you again. Most of them probably did not even realize that I was ‘gone’, with all the sensory overload we all face daily. If you have ever had a social media break, I would be very interested in how you felt and what you learned from it. xx your Luisa


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