Here we are again with another article for our Ask the Creator series! Today we chat with James Middleton, former rugby player, fitness instructor, presenter and Creator. Discover how he became an Influencer and what he thinks about the hottest topics in this fast-changing space.
James, how did you become a Creator and how has that changed your life?
Having always been into health and fitness, I went on a TV programme that was a battle of the sexes challenge in fitness tasks. I got to the final and after this I started being a lot more active on social media and wanting to help people live healthier, feel-good lives. That’s changed my life massively. I used to work in a 9-6 job, but I decided to quit that and pursue this career whole-heartedly. One things for certain, I’m very good at talking to the front of an iPhone now!
Where do you take your inspiration from?
My mum and dad. Since I was little they have shown me that if you work hard in doing something you love, you will be happy. My dad came from nothing and he has been very successful, but successful in the sense that he’s happy always with what he does and is still very humble. Being humble is everything. My mum is a Pilates instructor and only became one when she was in her 40s, so it’s never too late to start anything I’ve seen!
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The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it. I try and show you a proportion of my life through my pictures and words which I hope inspire you to live how you like without fear or restriction. My goal is to help as many people as possible to feel better inside their skin and to use exercise, healthy eating and mindfulness to further enhance this feeling of self-worth. Each and every one of us is unique, and that’s the most important gift we all have. Love yourself, all ways, always 👊🏼 📸 @broosk_saib
Being humble is everything.
How long did it take you to settle on your particular online style/persona?
I’d say I’m still working on this every day and constantly learning more about myself and my style. It took around 7-8 months to really see the path that felt right for me and what I really wanted to do, and that was just through experience of trying things.
What was the toughest stage in building your follower base?
I’d say it was when I was new to the whole social media world and recording a lot of what I was doing. Looking back, trying to get some consistency in what I was doing was hard as I didn’t really know what my audience wanted from me. Now, having learnt more about them, it’s easier to give them content they want and therefore keeping them interested.
How do you choose which campaigns to take and not take?
For me this is entirely based on whether I believe in the campaigns message, but more importantly if I think it will benefit my audience in someway. Everything I do is about sending a message to people to help them live healthier, feel-good lives so if the campaign isn’t linked to that in someway then it’s unlikely I’ll take it.
How do you prefer to work with brands?
On a very natural basis. Every brand has a message and it’s about communicating that message in the best way possible. Therefore I like to add my input and how I think I can best show this message, and if there’s an agreement where both sides are happy then great. Sometimes, brands have a ‘our way or the highway’ policy. It’s the 21st Century, this doesn’t work any more. They have to take some guidance from the Creators, as we know what works with our audience.
Sometimes, brands have a ‘our way or the highway’ policy. It’s the 21st Century, this doesn’t work any more.
What’s the best/worst experience you’ve had working with a brand?
Tough question! I’m lucky to have had a lot of great experiences with brands. If I had to pick one, I’d say it was with the meditation app Headspace: I got to meditate in the back of a branded black cab with the Chief Science Officer! Never would have thought I’d be doing that. I’m not just saying this but I’ve yet to have a bad experience with a brand, they’ve all been really good.
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The best breakfast to have when you feel like treating yourself…pancakes!! I always like to make them fresh with fruit and maple syrup but one thing you’ve always got to add – ICE CREAM. And my favourite ice cream to use is @breyersdelightsuk. It’s low in sugar and high in protein meaning it’s a healthy alternative to normal ice cream. Oh, and it tastes so damn good too 🙌🏼😃 #impossiblepossible
What’s the best festive season campaign you have seen on Instagram so far?
Hmmmm – I’d have to say Aldi’s ‘Kevin the Carrot’ campaign. I love carrots, it’s a great story and they’ve nailed the marketing with it. Well played Aldi!
Do you feel brands understand you as a Creator when they engage with you?
Yes, most of the time. Sometimes initially it’s taken a few conversations but most brands understand me as a person, my style, my tone of voice etc. and so it makes it really easy and fun when discussing working with them.
What strategies, formats, platforms and creative solutions do you believe Creators should be using to drive success?
Strategy wise, being as natural and close to your personality as possible. This for me is the most important aspect of being a Creator when working with brands. I also think be as creative and fun as possible and try to bring the brand to life. There’s so much out there, now you want to stand out in a way that will surprise people without shocking them. Instagram is such a big platform, but I think YouTube is still thriving and Facebook is also a platform that people still visit daily.
What are some of your top tips on how you can use more recently available tools such as tagging, Instagram Stories and clickable links?
I’m a big fan of Instagram stories and making them as animated and engaging as possible. They say you have 3 seconds to capture someone’s attention before they move on so I’m always conscious of this. Tagging brands in stories is very effective along with clickable links. Videos as a post always do well for me, particularly if there’s some good music thrown in and it’s snappy!
What are your thoughts on the ongoing debate around “fake” followers?
Fake followers – completely pointless! People are obsessed with how many followers you have as if that determines how successful or great you are. It’s rubbish! I’d rather have fewer followers, but whom are all engaged than millions of followers with low engagement! It’s about communicating and sending a positive message to the real people who engage with you, not some fake account which represents a number!
This post is also available in: Italian