If You Don’t Love Your Job, You Should Watch This

 

A few days ago I shared some thoughts over my Instagram Stories @adamfrancisco about how to become a digital nomad and it got a lot of positive feedback through DMs and private messages on Facebook so I wanted to make it available here. I didn’t think I would end up using the videos after the 24 hours expired so the content is very raw and somewhat disorganized (I mean, look at my hair) but I think the message can inspire some people. If you don’t love your job, you should watch this.

Key Highlights

“Your future is not guaranteed. You might never be 60 or 70 so don’t keep thinking that you’re gonna make it that far”

“If you’re one of those people that makes over six figures and you don’t really love your job, you could probably make $15,000 a year remotely.”

“As long as you have a boss, you’re not really gonna be in control of your own life, of your own time, of your own freedom”

“Freedom is the most powerful currency.”

“Besides freedom, the other most important currency is health. Without health, all the money in the world doesn’t really mean much. Ask any billionaire who has a terminal disease if they would trade all their money for health and the answer is gonna be yes. So really, health, time & freedom…I think those are the top 3 currencies.”

“I think that advertising is to blame in a big way because our job as advertisers is to convince people to buy things that they don’t need or to tell them what they want.”

The Subtitles (Because I’m a New Yorker and I talk fast)

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All right guys so to recap …

The weather here’s beautiful, especially if you go the beaches where you get a nice breeze, it’s a lot cooler, less humidity. Everything’s cheap. So my personal recommendation to all of you…

My recommendation is get a taste for it now while you’re young. Your future is not guaranteed. You might never be 60 or 70 so don’t keep thinking that you’re gonna make it that far. Get a taste for it today. And here’s how you do it.

So many of you are going to retire one day and you’re probably going to want to retire at the beach. I mean that’s just a fact.  Look at Florida. Look at all of our grandparents. They all go to Florida or they move somewhere warm. So you’re gonna want to retire at the beach. My recommendation is…

Try to save up $10-$15,000 dollars instead of spending it on stupid shit like brand name clothes, or things you don’t really need. Save that money, take a gap year. A life gap year. Just leave your life for a year.

Get rid of your rent. Get rid of your car payments Get rid of your … whatever you don’t need. Even your phone bill. Get rid of that too. Live rent-free. It’s so cheap out here. And you can just travel for a whole year on like, 15,000 bucks. You can travel for an entire year in Southeast Asian and the beautiful part about traveling is not only is it good for your Instagram, but it also expands your mind and shows you new culture and meet new people. It’s great.

Now look. If you are one of the 1% of people out there that really loves their job, then you know what, good for you. You hit the lottery. For most people, they don’t like their jobs or their job is a headache or a nuisance. You deserve a year off.

Here’s another thing. I’m 35 now. I know a lot of my friends make over six figures now so if you’re one of those people that makes over six figures and you don’t really love your job, you could probably make $15,000 a year remotely. Think about that. You probably could do that if you really tried.

Now companies are trying to be progressive now with these remote work cultures and “unlimited vacation days” but as long as you have a boss, you’re not really gonna be in control of your own life, of your own time, of your own freedom so just think about how you can become more free.

If LA (Los Angeles) taught me anything, freedom is the most powerful currency. Having actual unlimited vacation days…oh here’s my breakfast. Hey girl, what’s up?

And yes, Asia may not be for you. You might not like Asia or Southeast Asia. Whatever. You can really do this anywhere you want. You can go to Eastern Europe, South America, Central America, Africa. There’s so many other places.

One quick footnote: besides freedom, the other most important currency is health. Without health, all the money in the world doesn’t really mean much. Ask any billionaire who has a terminal disease if they would trade all their money for health and the answer is gonna be yes. So really, health, time & freedom…I think those are the top 3 currencies. Somehow, our society messed up along the way and we made money the most important factor in the world. And there’s a lot of people that have enough money to be very happy and they just keep chasing and chasing like it’s an endless video game. Like an endless runner. And I love this meme.

Stop Chasing Money

Honestly I think that advertising is to blame in a big way because our job as advertisers is to convince people to buy things that they don’t need or to tell them what they want. And therefore, they need more money.

I used to live in New York City and I had an apartment for $4,000 dollars a month but I also had a job. I was drinking 5 nights a week with clients and I had very little time to myself. Very little time. So now that I’m out here in Thailand. Or even when I was in LA, I drank once a month. Twice a month maybe. And I had so much personal free time. It was awesome.

And so while I loved LA, I had to leave because you need to work hard to make money to sustain that lifestyle in LA or New York, even though LA is cheaper than New York. I had to move here to stop the financial hemorrhaging and bleeding and I’m stabilized now. 

So anyway, if you are upset with your job, if you hate the routine, the monotony, if you hate having to rush your vacation days, and rush your gym time and personal time, DM me and let’s brainstorm how we can make you a little bit freer. I’m happy to help.

If you’re already married, I’m sorry for your loss. But if you’re not married and you’re single, I recommend taking a gap year and traveling the world meeting people from all around the world. Just living this free life. I’ll tell you this much guys, the single best part of traveling single is you get to meet local people of the opposite sex and they get to show you their country in the most authentic way. It’s incredible.

That’s not an innuendo. I literally mean they take you to the best local restaurants, the coolest places.

I was in Laos (it’s pronounced Lao not Laos by the way) 2 years ago and I met up with a local Laotion. She invites me to this park which was an hour outside of town and I never would have gone or heard about it because it was so far out of town that tourists don’t really go there. But she was a local so we went out there. It was awesome. We had a great time at the park. We took a lot of great photos. I’ll put some in this feed. She then invited me to a wedding that night. How cool is that? I went to a traditional Laos wedding. It was so cool.

Of course I had no dress clothes with me so she said let’s go the mall and let’ buy an outfit so I’m thinking the malls that we’re used to seeing in America. In Laos, they don’t really have a mall. It’s just street vendors and that was their mall so I bought an entire wedding outfit for like $15 bucks.

That’s my rant for the day. Hope you guys enjoyed it. I hope you guys watched the whole thing. If not, that’s cool too. I’m gonna go get a foot massage, maybe 2 hours. You know why? Cause I deserve it.”

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If you have any questions about becoming a digital nomad or want someone to bounce ideas off of, I’m here! You can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. And of course message me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.

Crossing the San Ysidro Border from San Diego to Tijuana

 

I recently crossed the San Ysidro border by foot. A few things I experienced :

1) I was shocked at how quickly I was able to walk from USA into Mexico. The total process, including reviewing the health certificates for my dogs, was under 20 minutes. It is my preferred method from getting into Mexico from USA if you’re visiting Tijuana (which has a revitalized food & culture scene which you can read about here). 🌮

2) When I was filling out the paperwork to enter the country, being that I appear Mexican (because I am Mexican), a Mexican border official asked (in Spanish) if I was Mexican. Although unable to speak Spanish, I understood this question and said “Si.” Realizing I don’t speak fluent Spanish, he asked if I was born in Mexico and I proudly said “Yes, Guadalajara.” He snatched the paperwork out of my hand and in English said “You were born here so you don’t have to fill out the paperwork.” Winning! 🎟

Crossing the San Ysidro border
Being welcomed home into the USA with open opens

3) When I was adopted from Mexico I wasn’t necessarily saved from a terrible life. Who knows how my life would have turned out. But because I was adopted by an incredible mom and dad from New York City, I was gifted with becoming an American citizen, a strong education and a country with upward mobility. And I get to say I’m a Mexican Jew (or a challah-peño) which sounds really cool and unique. 🇺🇸🇲🇽✡️

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I’m sharing these stories because it’s reminder of how blessed many of us are to have a roof over our heads, food to eat, water to drink and the ability travel at will. Many of us will never have to escape our countries against our will by foot. We can leave our countries by choice and be welcomed with open arms as I was in Thailand.

Hearing about the caravan situation at San Ysidro border is absolutely heartbreaking. I fear there are not going to be many winners in this scenario. If anyone knows of a trusted charity that I can make a humanitarian donation towards food, water and/or housing specifically for families with children, please let me know in the comments.

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As a note, this is not a political post. I am not sharing any opinions or solutions. I don’t even know what “right” or “left” means unless it’s a driving direction or what “right wing” or “left wing” means unless it’s referring to an airplane. But as a human being, the children involved should at least have food, water and a bed until this is resolved.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on what’s happening at the border or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. And of course follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.

Dearest My Frozen and Cold New Yorkers

 

Dearest my frozen and cold New Yorkers. I miss you all. I truly do. I can barely see you through the thin layer of ice and snow that has enveloped your shivering bodies despite the layers of triple goose, plaid scarves and faux fur you’re wearing. But don’t worry – warm weather is only 6-7 months away! You will get through this like you always do. You will survive.

The question is though – why do you feel like you have to? Is surviving cold winters a badge of honor? There are no participation medals given for your suffering through negative temperatures, 3 hour commutes (which should normally be less than 1 hour) or getting into work despite arctic conditions. And most warm cities are cheaper than New York City! So you’re paying a premium for misery! I would love to hear the last time somebody got a raise because they made it into work during a snowstorm. “You’re here Jim? Instant bonus!”

I remember winters in New York City and I am so happy they are a distant memory. There was a 3-4 day stretch in January 2015 where the weather in New York City dropped to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t leave my apartment for 3 days straight. Every meal I ate was delivered from Seamless (I tipped my deliverypeople handsomely). My poor dogs wanted to go outside but they were forced to pee and poop on their pee pads indoors (in my defense, I tried to take my dogs outside but as soon as they felt the cold, they quickly U-turned inside).  When you’re home for 72 hours straight, you end up playing a lot of video games and talking to people on Facebook. That’s when I messaged my friend Yuri  who was living in Los Angeles and unknowingly sealed my fate as a traitor to New York City (something I never could have imagined happening in my 20s – I LOVED New York).

The moment I had enough

When I made the decision to leave New York City, I was making a ton of money in ad tech sales (a majority of which came from nights out until 4 am crushing fireball shots). I knew leaving New York City would mean that I would be sacrificing significant future income, but it was still an easy decision. I would be gaining a different kind of wealth, currencies that we as a society tend to overlook: happiness, health & time. New Yorkers are way too stressed. We all have reasons to stay where we are, and for me, the money I was making would have convinced most people to stay in place, but there is more to life than making money.

Life is too short to spend time in a place you don’t really want to be while you dream of places you’d rather be.

I look across my Facebook and Instagram feeds today, and many of you are posting #tbt pictures of warm vacations you went on in the past as a reminder to yourself and others of where you really want to be. In my opinion, it’s where you deserve to be. If you aren’t posting pics of warm vacations you went on, many of you are looking forward to the moment that you can hop on a plane for a short flight down to the Caribbean, Mexico or Florida (but not Thailand because you’re limited by “vacation days” – I remember having those).

I get it. I was once one of you. But realize, life is too short to spend time in a place you don’t really want to be while you dream of places you’d rather be. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “one day I’ll retire someplace warm so I never have to deal with snow again.” How about this thought instead…

Take a step back, evaluate your skillset, and realize that you can cut out the middle man with a little career creativity. I define the “middle man” as : the time between the moment you realize where you want to be and the time  you believe you must spend to get there. At 31 it hit me…I had to live someplace warm but I believed I would have to wait until I was retired at 65 to live on a beach. By moving to Los Angeles at 32 and now Thailand at 35, I got to where I saw myself retiring 30 years before I was “supposed to.” I type this as I sit on the beaches of Hua Hin, sipping fresh coconut juice while getting a coconut oil Thai massage on my beach chair.

Current mood

Now I understand some of you really like the cold. You prefer it actually. If that’s the case, then this blog post does not refer to you. You’re happy with cold weather because you like skiing, snowboarding or winter fashion (because you think it looks cute). You belong in New York City, Boston, or wherever else it gets cold. The cold is like mushrooms to me, I don’t understand how people can like them.

I noticed a theme – people from New York City who move to Los Angeles rarely move back, but people from Los Angeles who move to New York City almost always move back.

Then there’s another segment of you. People who grew up in warm places like Los Angeles, Miami or Bangkok and you wanted to move the big city to try something new and challenge yourself to see if you can make it. This blog post also does not refer to you. I strongly encourage people to push themselves out of their comfort zone.  After 4 winters though, you’ll realize “why am I doing this to myself”? I noticed a theme – people from New York who move to Los Angeles rarely move back, but people from Los Angeles who move to New York almost always move back.

Then there’s another segment of you that this blog post does not refer to…those that have already traveled the world, lived in many different cities and said, “You know what, New York City is for me. Despite all those terrible winters, the overburdened subway system, the career-first, money-hungry mentality, the constant anxiety, the insanely expensive lifestyle, this is where I want to be.” You’ve explored the world and made an educated decision on where to settle down. Cold weather and snowstorms are just part of the deal.

But for those of you that do not like winters, the cold or the snow, and have never lived anywhere else, you can do something about it. You can move. You know what the best part about moving away is? You can always move back. 

Life without winter is even better in execution than in concept

Ask your job to transfer you to a warm climate. Do a month-to-month apartment rental from AirBnB. Get a storage unit in New York City and leave most of your stuff there if you’re not ready to go all-in. You can both escape the cold and simultaneously challenge yourself by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone living in a new city. The worst thing that happens is you don’t like the move and you move back. The best thing that happens? You realize life without winter is even better in execution than in concept, you become more worldly and maybe even discover a happier and better lifestyle for yourself. Yolo! Someone recently told me, “if we weren’t meant to travel, we’d have roots instead of feet.” So use your feet and go plant new roots somewhere warm.

See you on the beaches of Hua Hin!

I would love to hear what you think. If you have any questions about moving cross-country or to a different country, you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. And of course follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.

How I Met Stan Lee

 

I just heard about Stan Lee’s passing and I wanted to share how I met Stan Lee.

October 5, 2010 – I was sitting a few rows behind First Class on a Virgin flight from LAX to NYC (I was already obsessed with LA). We were about 45 minutes away from landing and I saw an older gentleman in first class look across the aisle. Immediately I knew it was Stan Lee but I couldn’t believe it. My role model, my distant mentor, the legend, was a mere 15 feet away from me. I wasn’t starstruck, I was godstruck. I quickly called to the flight attendant and asked her to confirm it was actually him. Part of me was hoping it wasn’t because I was completely unprepared. Confirmed.

I asked her (in a pleading tone) to ask Stan if he wouldn’t mind waiting for me in the terminal. She seemed hesitant to bother him but I gave her additional motivation. I told her to “please tell Stan that I work for Marvel Comics Talent as an official Spider-Man event actor.” It was good enough.

Me dressed as Spider-Man at a Wal-Mart toy release launch party in Neptune, New Jersey in 2007

As she asked him, I studied his body language from a distance so I would know the answer before she told me. Being how golden-hearted Stan is, I knew it was a yes.

Assuming he had places to be, I asked the 3 rows in front of me if they could stay seated so I could chase after him. Everyone agreed (this is before I had my dogs so it was much easier to move around the plane). I ran off the plane as fast as I could and there he was, standing in the terminal, waiting for not just me, but 3-year old me as well.

spider-man-adam-francisco
4-year-old me dressed up as Spider-Man

When I saw Stan in the flesh my body simply couldn’t process what was happening. I had all the signs of a panic attack : rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, blurry vision – that I did a full sprint to make sure I wouldn’t miss him didn’t help. Standing right before me was the creator of my most favorite thing in the world since I was 3 years old : Spider-Man. This was a meeting 25 years in the making courtesy of fate (and more evidence that good things happen from traveling).

What I thought I told Stan was :

“Mr.Lee – you have no idea how much I appreciate everything you’ve created. You are a god to me. Like you, and like Peter Parker, I’m also a Jewish kid from Forest Hills, Queens. Isn’t that so crazy? Spider-Man has been part of my life since I was 3 years old. My dad bought me my first Spider-Man comic when I was 7 : Spider-Man #2 when he battled the Lizard. Such a great storyline. Now I dress up as Spider-Man for your Marvel Comics Talent division as well as in my personal time for fun and I always knew that we would meet one day.”

Waiting for him to be impressed with my story of dedication and love for his creation, he responded :

“I’m sorry – I don’t understand anything you just said. Can you say it again and please slow down this time?”

I couldn’t slow down. I couldn’t compose myself. I was a blabbering idiot. My brain and my mouth would not communicate. But there was one thing I could do : put my arm around him, embrace the moment as well as Stan, shut up and smile.

stan-lee-adam-franciso
Me and Stan Lee in an airport terminal, just 2 guys from Forest Hills, Queens

After we took the pic I cried some of the happiest tears of my life in the airport bathroom. I couldn’t believe it. I got to meet Spider-Man.

Thank you for everything Stan. Thank you for your contributions that affect almost every child in the world. I’ve seen children in remote villages of Cambodia & Vietnam proudly wearing Spider-Man apparel and doing their best poses. When I dressed up as Spider-Man in Taiwan, every child completely lit up and I fully understood it. I just FaceTimed this week with a 5-year-old Spider-Man fan in Thailand. I may not be able to speak the same language as these childen, but the fantasy world you created gave us a platform to communicate through. Spider-Man’s web-shot hand is just as well-known as a thumbs up. 🤟🏽🕸

spider-man-vietnam
I surprised a 4-year-old at his birthday party in Vietnam
spider-man-taiwan
Kids in Taiwan love Spider-Man
spider-man-taiwan
I love the little girl touching my face because she thinks I’m not real
spider-man-thailand
FaceTiming with a 5-year-old Spider-Man fan in Thailand

Stan – The world already misses you. “‘Nuff Said”.

The Truth About Influencers

 

Anybody can be an influencer, but not everybody can influence.

I had 100k+ followers

A lot of people congratulated me when I hit 100k followers on my Instagram. I gotta admit – it felt pretty good. But more importantly – it looked really good. People started to react differently to me when we’d exchange Instagram accounts. “Wow – you’re huge!” “OMG are you famous?” I started getting invited to exclusive events. I went on free trips. I was even making a livable income by posting branded content. Just recently got into a club in Bangkok (where I live) by showing management my Instagram account (I was wearing a tank top and there was a strict dress code). They thought I was an actor they just didn’t recognize.

Recently, my number of followers has fallen below 95k (from a peak of 101k) and a few people have noticed and asked me “what happened?”. Have I suddenly become less popular? Has my content become worse to the point that people are unfollowing me? Actually, the opposite has happened but you wouldn’t know that if you used my follower count as a measure of my “influence” (start paying attention advertisers).

Add me on Instagram @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple. Lord knows I could use more followers

Later in this article, I’ll show you how to determine who is an authentic influencer. If you’ve ever wondered “why is this person so popular?” you’ll be able to easily find out if they really are (and then not feel as bad that you’re not as popular).

Follower Count = Vanity Metric

The problem with Instagram is that the entire influencer ecosystem is mostly based on 1 single metric: follower count. The more followers you have, the more money you get paid by brands, the more free trips you go on & the more exclusive event access you get. The higher the follower count, the better it looks and the more money you make and the more you can travel.

I met a hilarious comedian in New York City a few months ago after seeing his show. We exchanged Instagrams and he was both amazed & jealous at how many followers I had. He told me that great meetings ended on bad notes because he didn’t have enough followers (“only 12k+”) so he lost a few real world deals. Everything was going well until the follower count question at the end of the meeting. Crazy.

Follower count is a vanity metric, but a very expensive one. It is not a meaningful indicator of one’s influence, but the perception of one’s influence. 

This vanity metric creates a very clear incentive for an “influencer” to amass as many followers as quickly as possible (at the sake of quality followers). This happens in almost every career – the perception of being good at your job can be more important than actually being good at your job. A positive perception usually yields greater income. 

Brands and advertisers are starting to catch up and look at other factors such as number of likes & comments (L&C) but this too can be easily manipulated via engagement pods on Telegram. This is when a group of people (sometimes 1000s) agree to exchange likes & comments to boost each other’s engagement rates. This is all done outside of Instagram and is a great way to boost engagement. But is this a quality engagement and a way to measure influence?

Follower Count is the 90s Hit Counter

Follower count reminds me of “hit counters” back in the late 90s. Who remembers visiting a website and seeing the number of “hits” that website had via a hit counter? This was usually the first thing you’d see on the top of the webpage (or it would be all the way on the bottom). For those of you born after 2000, here’s what a hit counter looked like:

RIP Hit Counters

 

The problem with hit counters is that they were very easy to manipulate. If you had a website, you could just manually refresh your website over and over to increase the hit counter. The higher the hit counter number was, the more desirable & high-quality your website seemed and the visitors that stumbled across your site would feel more motivated to check out your content. Sound familiar? 

I met with a brand a few months ago that separated influencers into microinfluencers (those with less than 100k followers) & influencers (those with 100k+ followers). Microinfluencers received product but no payment. Influencers received product AND payment. You can see the clear motivation to grow as quickly as possible. 

Fake It Till You Make It

Somebody with less than 10k followers is (likely) not going to be paid, get invited on free trips, or get invited to exclusive events. Somebody with 30k+ followers can. This is where it gets interesting…

A person who organically grew to 10k followers does not look impressive when benchmarked to an influencer who grew to 30k (by any means necessary) and they will not be considered for opportunities. Even the influencers that want to keep their accounts clean have clear incentives to grow at any cost.

Because you have the perception of being popular (30k+ followers), you:

-Start getting paid which means you can buy yourself cooler things or eat at nicer restaurants or travel more or buy yourself a nicer camera which makes your content more desirable.

-Start going on sponsored trips which means you can take pictures in new places and show everyone how much you travel and all the exciting food you’re eating which makes your content more desirable.

-Start going to exclusive events which are usually posh and somewhat fancy like clubs, rooftop bars & wine tastings which makes your content more desirable.

It’s like a snowball. Once the snowball gets big enough, it will start rolling down the hill by itself getting bigger and bigger without assistance. Eventually, you have real influence because there’s the perception that you do, and there is definitely some value in that. Follower count is not an entirely worthless metric so how do you gain followers?

How Do You Gain Followers?

Here are the ways your favorite influencers gained followers:

(1) They are already famous: actors, athletes, reality TV stars & industry experts don’t need Instagram to become famous. They already are and that’s why people follow them. Just look at anyone from The Bachelor franchise before they were on the show and after. I really should apply. But I don’t believe in marriage so I’d have to act like I do. Wait a minute…

(2) They are early adopters: people who joined Instagram very early were able to grow quickly (big fish in a small pond). When the platform hit critical mass, they created the perception of somebody worth following (due to high follower count) and their followers continued to snowball.

3) They make truly valuable content: people who create valuable & authentic content such as fitness tips, travelers, inspirational living, food reviews, funny videos & sports highlights. If your content is that good, there’ll always be an audience.

4) They get semi-naked or just naked: people who show off their bodies. The problem is that most of their audience is just thirsty followers. For example, women who do this likely have 60-90% male followers. If a brand that targets women wanted to use their account & asked for their gender breakdown, they’ll quickly see that she is the wrong person for their brand as their content reaches mostly men.

5) They use Follow/Unfollow method people that follow a bunch of accounts taking advantage of the psychology of reciprocity (you follow me, I follow you), and then unfollow them in order to have the appearance of a desirable follower to following ratio. This has historically worked surprisingly well but it seems the average IGer has gotten wiser making it less fruitful.

6) Bots/Spam – people who purchased bulk bot/spam followers. Almost 0 value.

How I Became An Influencer 

If you’re wondering why I highlighted (5) in red, it’s because this is partially how I went from 2,000 to 101,000 followers in less than a year. (I’d also like to think I create some truly valuable content). Every day I would follow hundreds of other, human accounts, and every day I would unfollow them. While I was following real people, they were low quality connections. The Instagram algorithm knew this. Because there’s only so much visual real estate on a phone’s screen, Instagram will only show people the content they really want to see which is determined by a number of behaviors such as liking, commenting, responding to stories, DMs, etc. If someone is only following you because you followed them first, they’re likely not very interested in your account and your engagement will suffer.

As my follower count kept growing, the perception kept growing that my account was worth following or at least checking out. As time went on, not only did my follower count increase, but so did the actual quality of my content. As the number got higher, so did my perceived influence and in turn my actual influence.

I became an influencer. 

I stopped using this method around July of 2018 which is when you can see my follower count started to slowly decrease. I was losing followers faster (likely using the F/U on me) than I was organically gaining them, but I didn’t care.

Because there was one number that was improving invisibly … my AQS.

How Do You Know Who Is a Real Influencer? Audience Quality Score(AQS)

Since I stopped focusing on growing my follower count and instead focused on pushing out higher-quality content along with debuting my blog, my Audience Quality Score (AQS) has increased from 41 to 52. The quality of my audience has increased even though my follower count has decreased. I am more influential at under 95k followers than I ever was at 101k. This should continue to be the case as long as I focus on creating quality content, and not focusing on boosting a vanity metric.

You can plug in any influencer’s name you want in Influencer Marketing Hub’s Fake Follower & Audience Credibility Checker here. You’ll be shocked at how many influencers have used the F/U method. If they scored under 50, then they really maxed this method out and they have a low quality audience. What surprises me is how many brands & advertisers these accounts are still able to work with at their asking rates! 

To give you a sense of what influencers can get paid, it’s around $1,000 USD for every 100,000 followers, so if someone has 300,000 followers, they get paid $3,000 per post. 

To be clear, I don’t think someone with a low AQS should not be paid – I just think they shouldn’t be paid based on their follower count. If they have 300,000 followers and they’re asking for $3,000 USD but their AQS is 40, then a brand should point to the low AQS score and offer them 40% of their asking rate. There is still value to their account, just not the face value from the follower count.

Solutions

I think Instagram has two immediate solutions & brands have an immediate solution to clean up the influencer ecosystem :

(1) Remove follower count from all profiles. If the person is a real influencer, their content will continue to appear on feeds (based on the algorithm) & their dedicated followers would still be able to manually plug in their username to find their content just as they do now. But how will brands know how much to pay an influencer? 

(2) Currently, almost all influencer deals are done outside of Instagram either through brands and influencers directly, or through third party influencer platforms (which take a commission). Instagram can offer brands & advertisers deeper analytics if they broker the deal directly while also making a commission. This would be a new massive revenue stream for Instagram. If anyone can determine who is an influencer and who is an “influencer,” it’s Instagram. 

(3) Until the above happens, brands should always check the AQS score first, and then ask for the profile insights which provide age, gender & geo. If you’re a US brand and your influencer only has a 50% US audience, there should be an upfront 50% discount off the asking rate. 

You can see how this could determine a fairer value based on actual data & numbers.

300,000 followers would no longer be paid $3,000 per post. With a little due diligence, 300,000 followers (with a 40 AQS, a 50% US audience, and a 50% male target) would now command $300. This is extreme, because an influencer should be paid for their time creating branded content or attending a sponsored event, but I think somewhere in the middle is where influencer marketing needs to go. Smart brands are already doing this and hiring consultants like me to make sense of the messy influencer marketing marketplace.

I would love to hear what you think. If you have any questions about influencer marketing, you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. And of course follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!