Influencers don’t work alone. They are propped by numerous people who are willing to operate behind the scenes. Holly Valentine used to be among them taking on the supporting role, until someone had the guts to tell her the truth that she should be placed front center.
No, it’s not just about having the face nor having the right physical credentials. With the myriad of influencers nowadays, having the X factor means being a sum of a million characteristics. Holly knows because she has spent several years working behind the scenes. She shares, “I worked at a number of different marketing agencies and got the opportunity to work with a bunch of influencers and celebrities. I definitely never thought it was something that I could ever do. I just never thought I was pretty enough or interesting enough to get anywhere.”
Holly has what it takes and she has her 1.4M followers on Instagram (@holly.treats) to speak for her.
How she achieved her current following is science. Being an influencer is a lifestyle job. Holly has to be social, she has to be in the know about the latest trends and talk about what will keep her audience hooked. Keeping up with the industry is hard work, yet for Holly, to achieve her status, it still takes so much more. According to her, “You’re working all day and all night. This career will get in the way of family and of your other relationships. If you’re doing everything that it takes, meaning if you’re doing it right, you will be tired all the time and you never get a day off. It’s only with this level of dedication that you will succeed. If you decide to put this career second to anything, someone else will take your place.”
What’s interesting about Holly is her capacity to look at what she does in a more technical perspective.
As she goes on describing what it takes to be an influencer, the more we learn that what she does is not far from other professions — there’s a job description and it’s long. Holly reveals that her craft is technical, calculated, and exact.
She invests in her craft. She competes for the influence she enjoys.
Holly confides, A thing that no one talks about being an influencer is it definitely the need to invest to get somewhere. It takes more than passion, time, and effort. I spent $5,000 on lighting and equipment before I can even take a picture. That’s not something you have to do, but it’s something all the “big girls” do and because this is such a competitive industry you definitely want to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best chance you can.”
It takes more than being cutesy and social. Everything she does is purposeful and she’s what the industry needs to keep developing and growing. She respects competition, the science, and even the fluidity of the industry she chose to be part of.
Definitely, her capacity to drive online engagement is how she measures her success in her chosen career. To drive this, authenticity remains essential. For Holly, being an influencer works the other way around, it’s her audience that influences her next move. She reveals, “I would like to say that I planned out my image and online presence, but to be honest I feel like I’m constantly changing with my followers. I also would recommend just being yourself and doing what you think is fun and the right people will follow you.”
Holly is just a testament that it takes more than a pretty face and adorable physique to make it to the industry she’s part of.
As to her advice to aspiring influencers, Holly shares, “do not rely on everyone else to make YOUR dreams come true. You will be the best and probably only advocate for your career so don’t let it get to you if someone tells you no or doesn’t respond.” With this in mind, Holly knows that for her to be an effective influencer, she still can’t fully shed off her kingmaker role.
Where are you right now?
I am based in Los Angeles so the city is constantly buzzing with life. I saw LeBron James out on a bike ride the other day on my way to the grocery store and even though I’ve lived here for 3 years it definitely never gets old. Sure LA has is downsides but living here offers constant inspiration and motivation because everyone here is trying to make it happen for themselves which makes you want to keep up.
Tell us a bit about yourself, dreams aspirations before you started on your journey to fame.
Before I became an influencer I worked at a number of different marketing agencies and got the opportunity to work with a bunch of influencers and celebrities. I definitely never thought it was something that I could ever do. I just never thought I was pretty enough or interesting enough to get anywhere. Then one day I met a girl who got very real with me and convinced me that anyone can do this and kind of showed me the basics and BOOM! It just started happening. I got to 75k on Instagram within the first month or two and then I realized that this was something I was meant to do.
I always thought that I wanted to be on a marketing team for a company and through my journey I realized I’m not supposed to work for anyone else. I like building things myself and I’m a force to be reckoned with when I run my own show…but when I’m an employee I just can’t get motivated or stay organized the way I do when it’s my own project.
You’ve got over 1.4M followers on Instagram. Do you remember when you had just 1 follower? How did you get from here to there? What were some of the daily secrets that helped you grow such a following?
The most important secret to it is that you will grow as big and as fast as you work at it. People who think they can quit their 9-5 and only work 2 hours a day at this and become a celebrity need to understand that this is a lifestyle job. You’re working all day and all night. This career will get in the way of family, relationships, if you do it right you will be tired all the time and never get a day off. But if you’re dedicated to it then you will succeed. If you decide to put this career 2nd to something else then someone else will take your place. It sucks but it’s worth it if it’s something you want.
A thing that no one talks about is it definitely takes a capital investment to get somewhere. I spent $5,000 on lighting and equipment before I even took a picture. That’s not something you HAVE to do but it’s something all the “big girls” do and because this is such a competitive industry you definitely want to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best chance you can. It also takes money to grow. People and companies grow by getting features on pages that are bigger than your own and sometimes you can trade for it but if the difference in followers is great enough, the bigger page will usually want money to feature you.
It’s social media so you definitely want to be social. Comment back to everyone until you physically can’t keep up anymore. Figure out everything that’s needed across all your platforms and keep a schedule for yourself so you can figure out how much time you actually have. For me personally I can’t answer every DM I get because I have 8 platforms that all get comments, messages and need content so I reserve messaging for my subscription sites unless it’s someone in the industry. But I still set up days where I schedule time to answer all my comments or do Q&A’s to give my fans who don’t subscribe a chance to engage with me.
How do you manage your feed? Do you have people who help you keep it fresh and updated?
I started with live-streaming and I grew to 75k on Instagram within the first 2 months. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot but at the time I was totally shocked because I didn’t mean to do it. I would like to say that I planned out my image and presence but to be honest I feel like I’m constantly changing with my followers. I started gaming publicly recently which was something I thought wasn’t my category but it turns out my followers love it so if you’re just starting I would recommend just being yourself and doing what you think is fun and the right people will follow you.
I keep hearing people who aren’t in social media say “it’s all about the content” but I don’t think anyone really knows first hand what that means. Influencers with just one profile go though content like water and the followers develop a taste for your highest quality content and they know if you’re not into something and respond with lack of engagement.
I feel so lucky to have my manager. His name is Kevin and we started out because he is a photographer and we just became best friends and eventually started working together. He keeps me organized, let’s me know what content I’m running out of, keeps track of sponsorships for me and also sometimes acts as my therapist haha. He also helps me plan shoots and helps run my schedule. You really don’t need a manager right away but eventually you get to the point where it isn’t optional anymore.
This final point is actually the most important one. There is a very small percentage of people with over 500k followers and even less with 1m followers so we all know each other or are 1 person away from knowing each other. If you have a bad reputation or do something unprofessional then EVERYONE finds out and it will affect people wanting to work with you. My best advice is be nice to your followers and be nice to other people you work with because I’ve seen it come back to haunt people all the time. I also recommend not choosing a persona that’s drastically different than your own personality because it just becomes too hard to keep up with.
What do you charge now for a sponsor to get you to post something for them? What’s the best way to get in touch with you for something like that?
Honestly it depends on the company and what they want. I typically don’t do free posts or trade for product unless it’s something that I find on my own and want to talk about. The best way to get in contact with me is either DM or email. I really go above and beyond for my sponsorship posts and most companies come back for multiple promotion rounds. I’ve worked with clothing companies, supplement companies, apps, TV shows, I definitely get a lot of variety.
We get submissions for models daily wanting to be in a magazine or just find work. Do you have any tips they likely wouldn’t find anywhere else?
You have to push. Just like if you were looking for a job you wouldn’t apply at just one place. You also need to follow up and not rely on everyone else to make YOUR dreams come true. You will be the best and probably only advocate for your career so don’t let it get to you if someone tells you no or doesn’t respond.
Also there is now a huge spark in the “Influencer Management” industry and I’m personally seeing so many people and companies giving models reasons why we should share a cut of what we make with them. I feel like it’s really important to say that YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE to make your dreams come true other than yourself. Also get really good at keeping track of your numbers.
Finally, pay attention to your followers. They will tell you what kind of content they want and even though your page starts out as your own personal expression it turns into something way bigger and it’s important to give the followers the respect that they have earned.
Are you currently single? And looking?
Hehe I am definitely enjoying the single life. I don’t know if I would describe what I’m doing as looking but I’m definitely having fun.
What are some things a guy can do to get someone of your calibre? Especially when there are so many men competing for your attention.
I think that being secure with yourself is the most important part. Girls who do this make a lot of money, we like to flirt, we are always busy and it can definitely be annoying and upsetting for a lot of guys. I try to stay away from guys who have a history of “trying” to date girls who do what I do. Also if you meet a girl who is in the public eye on social media don’t push her to create any kind of content with you. If she wants to do it then she will ask. But if the guy asks it can come off like you’re trying to control her even if that wasn’t your intention.
Being able to make me laugh and stimulate me mentally are the two most important things to me. I love going on fun dates and doing crazy stuff but the biggest turn on is when a guy can be fun just hanging out at home together and talking and goofing around.
What are some of your hobbies? When would be the ideal place when you are out for a guy to approach you?
I love to cook and sometimes when I want to meet new people I go to cooking classes or pop up dinners. I’m a very adventurous person a I usually find other adventurous people at pop up dinners. I work out a lot and I’ve met some awesome people doing yoga or at the gym. I game too but I haven’t met anyone I play online with yet…at least that I know about. But to be honest the place I’ve had the best luck at is the grocery store. I don’t know why but every time I go grocery shopping I meet someone haha. Look for me in the produce section!
What makes you feel sexy?
Wearing a sexy perfume and high heels makes me feel sexy. Also good music is always a turn on. Whenever I shoot I either turn on some Lyrical EDM or Hip-Hop because I feel sexy when I shoot to that.
I wear lingerie a lot in shoots but my favorite outfits are short skirts or dresses…for obvious reasons.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
Mario Party, expensive shoes, Salt and Straw Ice Cream, Making fun of reality TV with my friends.
What was the most romantic gift you have ever gotten?
Chicken soup and being told that I was the most beautiful girl in the world while I was sick.
What is something you’ve learned since becoming famous that you wish someone had told you?
It’s your job to get judged by the public. Don’t take it personally. They won’t care a week from now.
Do you read the comments?
Yes I do. I try to respond to all of them too.
Where haven’t you been that you would like to go?
I want to go to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. I’ve never been anywhere in Asia and I’m really excited to go!
What’s the most insane thing you’ve done on a shoot?
Smashed donuts all over me and assaulted a bag of popcorn. I’m not even kidding
First thing you see when you look at a guy?
Eyes, then smile and then shoes.
How does it feel to be influential to other people?
This sounds so lame but I feel like a normal person. I feel so lucky to have made my followers feel comfortable to the point where they talk to me as they would a friend and I think it’s because I talk to my followers as I would my friends in real life. The only thing that social media has really changed for me is it has given me access to more people than before. I don’t feel like people follow influencers to be influenced. They follow us because it gives them something to think about other than the reality that is around them day to day but they are still going to be the people that they are and I don’t try to change that. I don’t push my political views on people or tell them how to improve themselves. I just tell them how I stay fit or how I spend my day and it’s their choice to accept me as someone that is for them or not for them. It’s actually more humbling than anything because you learn to respect the individual freedom of others way more than before.
If Steven Spielberg were to film a biography film on your life, who would you want to play you in the movie?
Margot Robbie. She is my spirit animal.
Where can fans/followers expect to see you next?
You can always stay update with me on my Instagram and I’m excited to start live-streaming again and posting more on YouTube and TikTok!