With over 70,000 followers, Ann-Katrin Schmitz aka @himbeersahnetorte, definitely can be considered as influencer – but she didn’t really want to become one. Today, she uses her reach to share her knowledge. In the intombi interview she answers questions about her profession and her mission addressed by the intombi girls.
Have you always planned to work in social media or did you had another career aspiration before graduating from school?
Originally, I wanted to pursue a career in the marketing or PR department of one of these big luxury companies – until the day I had started an internship exactly in this area. Rigid hierarchies, inflexible working hours and the eternally long acceptance paths for my work have already had a deterrent effect on me during the first month. When I finished my practical semester after three months, I knew I had to do something on my own!
What did you study?
I studied corporate communications and journalism with focus on Online.
How did you come to work with Farina Opoku – known on Instagram as @novalanlove?
Farina and I know each other from university, we were a very small course of about 15 to 20 people at that time. Farina had also completed an internship semester at David LaChapelle in New York. That was in 2013, when we used the App Instagram in Germany to add vintage filters to our pictures and then post them on Facebook. In the USA, the platform was much further ahead and a real community had already formed. Farina brought back about 14,000 followers from her time in New York (according to today’s conditions that correspond to about 1.4 million) and gave us an understanding of the app at university. Instagram quickly picked up speed in Germany and more and more people asked Farina questions about her styling routine, her daily oufits and her general lifestyle via the comment function. I reached out to Farina and offered her to try out the model of a blog in addition to Instagram. Three months after the initial idea I developed a holistic social media strategy and created the technical background and Farina produced the content.
What is your profession and is it your dream job?
Today I know: This is my dream job, because I practically “created” it myself. A constellation composed of marketing/management and content creator was practically non-existent in 2014. Farina and I were certainly pioneers in the field of influencers. But my profession changes constantly, sometimes even monthly. The entire social media landscape changes incredibly fast, trends and user behaviour change fast. It is important to stay flexible and interested in your own industry, you never stop learning. That is why I constantly try to be proactive and attend conferences and theme days in the area of online marketing and social media on a regular basis.
My funniest experience at work:My funniest experience this year was certainly a cooperation request for Farina from a funeral home association. In the concept paper it was said that the topic “death” was so negatively afflicted and nobody wanted to talk about it. To change this, selected influencers were asked to design and colourfully decorate their future coffins themselves. As you can imagine we rejected this cooperation 😉.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
That I can be my own boss! I can organize my work freely, don’t have to stick to rigid working hours, can be creative and productive whenever I want. This is incredibly liberating and makes me grateful every day. I work together with great people, travel a lot and can realize my real self in many exciting projects.
How does a typical day in your everyday professional life look like?
I hate the term “everyday life”, for me a regular daily routine is rather a frightening thought. Many people need regular procedures and routines in order to be productive, I am rather the opposite. But when I am in Cologne or Hamburg, in one of the two cities where I live, my day starts with a strong black coffee. Then I usually first check the mails I received from other time zones overnight. Meanwhile I try to hesitate to take my mobile phone for the first time of the day as long as possible in order not distract myself immediately with Instagram and Co. But since in our team we usually communicate via WhatsApp, I can usually only persevere this until 9 or 9:30 in the morning. I usually work through the daily business by noon, coordinate appointments, brief Farina for the day, and prioritize my to-do’s to be accomplished by the end of the day. At noon I usually meet customers or people from my network for lunch, so I have the feeling that I have even done something productive during the lunch break. In the afternoon I am busy with new projects like our NovaLanaLove.de, presentations for lectures, I prepare workshops or take care of the bookkeeping.
How much do you earn? Is it possible to earn a good salary in the field of social media?
Considering my age, I have an above average income. But I have also worked that out myself and practically never take a rest. Basically, I have no classical working hours and can be reached out by the entire team as well as by customers 24/7. And I was in the right place at the right time! But: The social media industry already has an extremely high sales volume, and the trend is still rising. If the focus of this question is to confirm that the career aspiration “influencer” is a realistic goal, then I am afraid I have to disappoint people at that point. For me, “influencer” is not a classical profession, but rather a status of our new digital world, practically a different designation for the term “celebrity”. But often there are mixed forms, then influencers are also journalists, creators, conceptionists, media makers, designers, etc. Many of them also try out themselves in various areas and use their digital reach for new projects which do not necessarily depend on Instagram and Co… But this is a natural process. You don’t just become an influencer, but you are turned into an influencer.
Are you satisfied with your life or would you like to change something?
I am incredibly happy with my life, for me it could stay that way forever!
Why did you choose not to go for a typical influencer career and instead working in management, in the background?
Because I prefer to stay in the background, I feel much more comfortable there. Since the beginning, I never wanted to be a blogger or influencer myself, I was much more interested in the strategic orientations, new journalistic approaches and, of course, the digital business models behind the scenes. My aspiration is to pass on my knowledge, to advise big brands and companies and to use my small, modest reach to strengthen media competence and education on certain topics relevant for that business (e.g. advertising labelling in social media). If reaching that goal requires to stand on a stage as a speaker in front of 500 people or to record an Instagram story for an even larger audience, this is a means to an end for me. Nevertheless, I have great respect for the life that Farina lives practically every day under the eyes of her community. She has to be present around the clock in addition to being available at all times. I think that can be quite exhausting and exhausting. That’s certainly not always easy and you shouldn’t underestimate it at any time. But in the end I want to motivate everyone to realize themselves in some way. That will also be the topic of my coming-soon podcast “Baby got Business”.
Nevertheless, I have great respect for the life that Farina lives practically every day under the eyes of her community. She has to be present around the clock in addition to being available at all times. I think that can be quite exhausting and exhausting. That’s certainly not always easy and you shouldn’t underestimate it at any time. But in the end I want to motivate everyone to realize themselves in some way. That will also be the topic of my coming-soon podcast “Baby got Business”.
My worst experience at work:The worst happened a few weeks ago, when my entire desktop was deleted from my now seven-year-old Mac Book Air after an update. Thank God my tech-savvy friend was able to restore a backup from the iCloud. Nevertheless, it was a shock at first and showed me how important data storage is. Without that months of work would be gone in practically one second.
What is your advice to other girls who would also like to work in social media?
The social media landscape is huge and jobs that didn’t exist before emerge constantly. It is really difficult to find your way around. Nevertheless, the basis is always a university degree! In case of doubt, for the beginning this can also be “something with media.” Look for a course that is as diverse as possible and gives you insights into several media areas (online, TV, radio, etc.). In the best case, it also includes basic knowledge of classical marketing and/or corporate communication. I am pretty sure during your studies you will discover in which area you have great potential and specific talents. If after graduating you are still unsure, you should do at least two or three internships for one year to get your bearings and gain some work experiences. In the very best case, however, you have already gained your first experience as a working student during your studies.
Whom do you follow on Instagram? Do you use Instagram to learn from others?
Dear Ann-Katrin, thank you a lot for that very interesting interview!