For the last year, I had the opportunity to work as a social media manager for 2 different websites. Being a social media manager is just a pretentious way to say you’re getting paid for being on the internet. Sadly there is much more to it than it appears and it’s not all that much fun.
I’m a blogger and I’ve been for several years now. Over time I got to work with different websites on different types of collaborations such as fashion blogger programs, review programs, affiliate programs, columnist writers, and more.
One day I was approached by the owner of a New York online magazine with the opportunity to write for them. Even though it was not my first time writing for someone else besides my own website I was thrilled. I thought it would be so fulfilling to get the direct payment for an article I wrote. It felt like I’m about to reach my ultimate goal.
I wrote a couple of articles, got published but there was one thing that kept bothering me.
Being my own boss so far meant I could write whatever I felt like and publishing it whilst being 100% content with what I’m putting out there.
But when I wrote for someone else I lacked the freedom and the ability to express myself to the fullest.
There were just too many rules and restrictions. For example, I had to provide my boss with a handful of topics I would write about, the basic scheme, the keywords or photos I would be using before I actually wrote anything. No more writing my heart out when the creativity strikes and I had a thought time trying to fit into norms that were set for me. But I pushed through, hoping to expand my writing abilities.
It was so unsatisfying I couldn’t believe it.
I had my article officially published as a writer, I had my name on it, but it went through so many edits, changes, and alterations I barely felt like a cowriter. My former boss went even so far as publishing my original work under his name and that’s when I realized, that was not what I was looking for. Slowly I ghosted the writing for the magazine altogether but stayed in touch with the boss.
One day a few months later I and the boss were talking and out of curiosity, I asked who is managing the magazine’s Instagram. The answer was” No one. Wanna do it?” And I wanted to.
I always thought being a social media manager required some sort of requirements besides wanting to do it.
Some sort of proof I know what I was doing, which I didn’t by the way.
I mean, I guess I was qualified enough judging by my own Instagram account I’ve been working on for years, Pinterest, Tumblr, or blog but to do all of that for someone else? I didn’t know what to expect or what was expected of me but I wanted to try it.
The first thing that surprised me about being a social media manager was the amount of different apps I had to download.
If you think it’s just posting on Instagram and scrolling the app for hours you are mistaken, just as I was.
First of all, I had to get the Slack app for communication with the team. It’s something like a Whats app where you communicate with a group of people based on the projects you’re working on. I was mostly communicating with my boss.
Then I had to get a Later app. That one is basically a scheduling app for social media plus the statistics. I was supposed to upload the posts to the later app, put on some caption, hashtags, and if it was a post with a connection to some of the magazine’s articles I would link it to the said article. The app calculated the best time for me to post based on our audience demographics and the highest activity time for us to reach the highest reach.
Personally, I think it’s a crappy app cuz Instagram knows it’s not organic posting, therefore you’re never gonna get the same results as with standard Instagram posting.
Another app I used was Canvas for my posts creations.
I used Presco for my posts edits, but I also used Lightroom cuz my boss purchased some presets there and wanted me to use it.
That’s quite a handful for simply managing the Instagram.
What had me in doubt about accepting the position was the language barrier. I’m not a native English speaker and I was anxious that I would not understand the work-related vocabulary as much as I wanted to. And I was correct, I had a hard time understanding but the problem was not me.
My boss had a terrible people skill for someone working with people. He was very unpleasant to talk to, his answers were short, rude, demanding, full of typos and he could not express himself for the love of God.
For example, he would ask me to not do something, actually adding the negation to the sentence, and then bitch about me when I did exactly what he told me not to do because he meant for me to DO it that way and not NOT to do it.
He had a certain vision he wanted his Instagram page to look like but, didn’t know how to use his words to describe it.
Every other original idea I had was dismissed without any explanation.
I would upload the posts to the later app and ask him to check it out and tell me what he thought. He would reply with a simple approved and I was relieved there was nothing wrong with it this time. Only to have him bitch about it days after posting with why did I post it.
Later on, I realized he didn’t even check what I did, only complain about everything. He changed his mind day by day. So many times I had to delete hours of work because suddenly he didn’t like it anymore. On those occasions, he would provide me with the posts or themes to process and publish which were terrible.
We had such different ideas on what we found to be good it was ridiculous.
But in the end, I followed up with his ideas before mine cuz he was the one paying me.
I bet you’re dying to know how much money does the social media manager makes.
Well, to be fair I have no idea. When my boss asked me how much I charge per month I was really baffled.
I have no idea how much I charge for the work I have never done and don’t know what it really means.
What price do I say? What if it’s too much and I’m done before I even began but what if it’s too little and it’s not worth my time?
So I kept thinking and thinking and with a little hope, I told my boss I would need 100$ per month. To my surprise he was like “I can work with that” and that was it. I was so relieved.
Little did I know how draining that job would become.
My boss always complained. Everything I did bothered him and with every one message he sent me, I thought it would be the last one cuz he’s definitely gonna fire me next.
That’s why when he told me he fired some other person managing his other account and want me to take over another job I was shocked. I guess I must have been doing something right then.
The other Instagram account I managed besides New York magazine was a fashion website.
I thought I got this. I was working with fashion sites for over 6 years by then and did so many reviews I was sure I could prosper the account to its fullest potential. My enthusiasm was cut short when my boss told me his requirements.
I was to only post photos from the fashion websites, nothing personal, no new ideas.
The fashion store he owns is nothing special. Simple Chinese clothes you can find at every other fashion website but with a way too high price, The official product photos looked like from the stock photos selection with occasional blurry model photo.
I hated every second of it but I was in it for the money, I’m not gonna lie.
My boss had a clear idea about how to run a fashion site even though I repeatedly told him I was a young woman interested in fashion and I would never buy the clothes from his site.
Let me give you an example. I posted a photo of some snake-skin skirt to the Instagram account after my boss approved it. The next day he messaged me that the photo is terrible and I quote: “The lady looks like a drug addict.”
I almost lost my shit. It took several deep breaths until I could explain to him that I simply took the photo from his website as he told me to and I did not make her look like a drug addict, he choose that photo for his website himself. Obviously, I did not get a reply to that.
My boss was never satisfied and neither was I.
His main concern was that the account is not prospering the way he wanted to, the new followers were not increasing in the amount he expected them to and the genuine reach was poor.
Well, how could it not when he took every measure possible to make my job impossible.
When I first began I checked the account statistics. For an account with 200 followers to have a 600 story views is an unbelievably high number, and it truly was. It was unbelievable cuz it wasn’t real. It was bought and not gained.
I signed up to grow a fake account without my consent but it was what it was. I wanted to give it a shot anyway.
At first, my boss bitched about how could the reach fall from 600 to 10 once I took over. Well no shit Sherlock, your bought views dropped once you stopped buying them, what’s so surprising about that?
I battled through, I grew a few hundred new followers organically when my boss gave me another blow.
He used to consult me on many things what was really nice and unexpected. He asked about my opinion often even though he almost never followed through but it was nice to be included. Mostly he wanted to discuss the promotion options. Safe one as Instagram paid promotions which we did, brought us likes and not followers. He couldn’t have that. So without me knowing he bought a few thousand, new followers, for the account.
We could simply throw all of the statistics to the trash. Our target group was an American/European females from age 20-30. With a blink of an eye, we had thousands of teen males from India following us. And my boss had the audacity to be angry about those robots not liking the cute sundresses we posted on Instagram and blame it on my poor performance.
I’m pretty sure I would love being a social media manager if my boss was not a terrible person.
I can’t believe I lasted for a whole year.
Even though it was very frustrating I’m still glad I got to experience this whole social media manager thing. I must say learn a lot and I practiced anger management like never before. Plus the money, the only thing that kept me going for so long.
So what was the last straw that made me quit?
I would say it was a long time coming. I was frustrated with the communication with my boss or more like the lack of it. He kept demanding more and more and I understand his frustration as well, but you can’t keep complaining without actually listening to possible solutions. My effort to fix things was met with dismissal and I was like: ok let’s do it your crappy way just as long as I get you off my back.
I tried to meet his every ridiculous demand and it took too much of my time and energy. My own interests were suffering because of it. I put my own blog second and I wasn’t writing as much as I wanted to cuz I spent all of my free time working for some jerk.
There was this one lovely sunny weekend I spend inside my home working on new content for him after he spend the last 3 days constantly messaging me about it.
My boss didn’t have the courtesy to comment on my final work whatsoever instead he ignored it and told me to download another app. He required me to re-upload all of my 2 days of work to this new app called Airtable, then I would upload them again to Later app and then to Instagram. So simply doing the same job twice for the same money.
I knew then and there that I was done with him and this whole social media manager mess.
I simply told him if he wanted me to do double the work he’ll need to give me a raise or he’ll need to find someone else for the job. Naturally, I got no response from him.
The next morning I was removed from all of the accounts and I got a short email informing me about terminating me as a social media manager.