The Influencer

Hey all, I decided to sell out and turn on ads in my blog. Let me know if they’re too obtrusive or ruin the experience.

This next story explores the silliness of social media fame. A bit hypocritical, since I aspire to the same, but hey, all in good fun.

The cursor hovered over the RECORD button. He hesitated. A buildup of saliva forced him to gulp. His finger pulled back from the left mouse button. Off to the side, a notebook with almost illegible handwriting stared back at him. His rising tide of panic receded. The Influencer needed to rehearse again.

Eyes behind $20 magenta-tinted sunglasses pored over the notebook’s content. He glanced at his reflection from his laptop screen. A cheap and garish look to be sure, but subscribers enjoyed his gaudy persona. His fingers adjusted the navy blue tie over his pressed shirt. Crazy as his YouTube personality may be, he still needed to make the perfect impression. He brushed his hair back. A stray lock could distract the audience and, even worse, incur a negative comment.

He brought his hands down in front of him. Key points and barely-related anecdotes for his presentation rattled around in the Influencer’s mind. Would the audience like this example? No, they would recoil if he started off by describing a $50,000 investment. He needed to go lower. Much, much lower. Start with $100. Yes, that would be the title: “How to turn $100 into $1 million!!”. He wrote a note. This would get a couple more subscribers, although they’d be poor and unlikely to donate to the Patreon page.

An index finger tapped the side of his head. That was the problem. He needed richer subscribers. He needed to grab the whales, ones who wouldn’t mind dropping $1000 every month. Unfortunately, warmed over Napoleon Hill and Dave Ramsey advice tended not to attract those high-rollers. Still, maybe the 300k subscriber count would draw them in. God, it seemed only a month ago that the count was in the few thousands.

The Influencer shook his head. All those thoughts distracted him. If he wasted any more time, his entire Saturday evening would be gone. He looked over his notes again. Months of practice assured him that he had enough to go over the 10-minute YouTube limit. He fought down a wave of annoyance. There was always that commentator that complained that he took too long to get to the point. That person didn’t understand. To make a living, he had to draw out simple points for as long as possible.

Follow your dreams. Pay off your debts. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Not necessarily in that order. All the old, hoary advice given over the years that no one ever followed. But people listened to them, or at least pretended to. And even better if you could spice them up with shiny graphics. The kids loved these. In fact, his analytics showed that 75% of his audience were still in high school. He suspected the rest lied about their age.

The problem with young people was their attention span. They moved between things like tourists in an old European city. The Influencer was barely out of college himself, but at least he appreciated and considered things that came to his attention. He pinched the bridge of his nose. These musings had distracted him again.

For a third time, he glanced over his notes. “How to turn $100 into $1 million!!” A perfect title to capture the attention of any curious browser. Also total clickbait. It was nearly impossible to make $1 million from $100. Not without a prodigious amount of luck. Prodigious. That was a nice word. He put it down in his notebook. No, wait, too many syllables. The SEO app wouldn’t like that. He crossed out the word. He thought back to his topic. If he were really serious, he would tell them it would take blood, sweat, and tears to make that first million. You simply could not give that message in this day and age. Much better to blather on with positivity-tinged talk for nine minutes and then give a minute of perhaps useful advice.

A red number appeared on the notification bell. He tabbed to his YouTube page and read the DM. Another kid asking how to open a checking account. He snorted. How many times had he told these people to read the articles on the website? He didn’t have time to spoonfeed them. His right hand brushed over a copy of The 4-Hour Workweek. An assistant would be nice. He knew that remote ones from India were pretty cheap.

The Influencer’s thoughts wandered again. He’d need to edit the video afterwards, which would take most of Sunday. Complaints had risen about the repetitive use of stock footage in recent videos. He gritted his teeth. The stock media places had increased their prices for individual videos a week ago, a bid to force people towards subscriptions. Now that was where the real money was, he thought. Be the one selling the shovels, not the one shoveling.

“Steve! Dinner’s ready!” The yell from upstairs shook him out of his reverie.

“I’ll be up in 10 minutes, Mom!” He shouted back.

Well, time to start. He tabbed back to his recording software and started it. The laptop camera’s light blinked on.

“Greetings, YouTubers!” he began. “Be sure to smash that Like button and hit the Subscribe. Today, we’ll be talking about how to turn $100 into $1 million. Now, my story’s long and complicated and I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. I’m sharing this so you can make that first million without the heartache.”

As he talked, a stray strand of hair fell over his forehead.

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