One of the projects I don’t talk often about was my 2013 social media experiment “A Sponsored Life”, where I lived an entire year using just social media influence as a tool for survival. Despite the experiment being one of the most ambitious things I’ve ever accomplished, I don’t talk about it. I’m not very good at being proud of myself. I feel guilty when people say nice things about me. A friend once said something very poignant about my self deprecating sense of humour… “You like to put yourself down because you worry you’re not relatable. But the fact you think that, makes you more relatable than the self deprecation humour does.”
I suppose there is truth in that, but I still downplay my successes. The few times I have talked about my big wins, I often get hit with ‘humble brag’, or ‘blogger life’, or those that insinuate I haven’t worked hard enough. It’s a terrible mindset because it creates a kind of negativity spin that encourages me to avoid being successful. I’m trying to break that habit and start being proud of my accomplishments. If I can influence myself to enjoying my successes, perhaps I’ll be more successful. So, if you see me start to talk about them… understand I’m NOT trying to boast/brag about them… I’m just trying to actually appreciate myself and the work I put in.
My Influence in a Book
I write this with the intent of starting today… because what better day to start than one when you learn you’ve been written about in a book. Page 194, the opening paragraph of Chapter 11 in a book called “A Companion to Celebrity“:
In January 2013, Canadian blogger Zach Bussey began a year-long effort to live an entirely sponsored life. He cleared all his belongings out of his apartment and attempted to live solely off the perks he generated by his social media influence alone. Bussey offered different promotional services, such as special dedicated blog posts, twitter mentions, Tumblr images, and YouTube videos to those brands and companies who would provide him with products or perks. While many people have used their bodies to promote products and services, Bussey appears to be the first person to offer his entire life as a platform for marketers (Bussey 2013). Zach Bussey embodies a new kind of worker subjectivity that has emerged from the data stream: the SMI, or social media influencer.
It’s weird when I think back on that project because I have so many conflicting thoughts on it. On one hand, it gave me insight into the world of influencers before it was what it was today (or perhaps I was just on the forefront of what it is today), but it also forced me to live it on an extreme scale. My one massive takeaway was that trying to live that world exclusively was soul sucking. Spending each and every waking hour talking to brands/marketers about how I could sell myself was hard. The content I created wasn’t great – but it was necessary to survive. And survive I did.
I had fully intended to write a book about the experience shortly after the project had concluded (and in fact, have all the notes from what that book was going to be about) but now I’m thinking of maybe chopping it up into a bunch of blog posts considering it’s 2.5 years later at this point. We’ll see I suppose, but in the meantime, it’s time I start priding myself better in my successes.