Fallon Gregory, a Kija/Bardi woman from Western Australia, has been in the influencer industry since 2019 and has 25,400 followers on Instagram.
When she signed with an agency in September last year though, she realised she’d been undercharging for her work for years. So she decided to launch the Instagram account Influence Blak last month to create more transparency around the realities of working as a creator, how to build a brand, and what agencies and companies need to do to embrace diversity.
Here, she tells Business Insider Australia what it’s like to be an Indigenous creator in Australia.
Gregory said she wants to help Blak businesses and brands grow an audience online.
Influence Blak is a resource I would have loved to have as I looked for guidance as a First Nations person trying to pursue influencing. And not just influencing but social media and turning yourself into a brand.
It’s not just for people wanting to be an influencer, it’s also for Blak businesses and brands, small businesses. People want guidance with social media and how to navigate things like engagement and how to best connect with an audience.
I was one of the first Indigenous people in the space on social media when I started in 2019. Knowing what was lacking for First Nations creators in this space is something we don’t see a big discussion about.
So I wanted to create a resource where we could come together and discuss things that surrounded the world of influencing. And also [to] teach First Nations people coming into influencing what agencies and brands and businesses look for when they want to collaborate to maximise their chances of generating work.
Gregory also covers activism around social justice issues that impact her community. Being ‘aspirational’ is part of social media but she says up and coming creators should be true to their experiences.
When I first started influencing I was still on my own journey with my Blackness.
A lot of the content that I would post would be very palatable to non-Indigenous Australia, or white people in general, because that’s what was mainstream.
But we weren’t living like that, obviously, we were living our Black experience with our Black lives.
Getting signed with an agency helps influencers navigate partnerships and payments with a better view of industry standards and rates. Yet Gregory says agencies don’t sign enough Indigenous creators.
I was signed by agency Bella management last September, it’s been nearly 12 months. As my first agency, I couldn’t be happier with them. I’ve never felt put into a position that I wasn’t comfortable with, or that wasn’t a safe space for a person of colour.
The agency helps a lot with working towards pay I deserve. When I was working independently, I was really low-balling myself in terms of rates, because I felt I didn’t deserve to ask what I knew they could afford. There was a lot of navigating because there were so few Indigenous people in the space, I wasn’t asking ‘should I be charging more?’”
The Black Lives Matter movement’s resurgence in April last year sparked new interest in working with Indigenous influencers. Gregory says she wants to see brands grow authentic relationships with creators.
When the Australian Black Lives Matter movement saw a resurgence in April last year, brands and businesses scrambled to grab any Indigenous influencer they could find, regardless of what their niche was, regardless of their personal opinions. As long as you appeared Black, they would have you on their books, and they were happy to put you all over their social media.
I had a mountain of gifts in my room; clothing parcels, skin products, shoes, accessories, sunglasses. Someone sent me a suitcase.
I remember that it was just very transparent and shallow, because I had never worked with them before. I didn’t know if they were a good brand to be promoting to Black people. I didn’t know if they were supportive of Black people, genuinely. So I felt like I was very obligated to do that content creation.
There was a big demand for content but they were not willing to pay. But the brands I did stay working with are the ones that compensated me and that was in their initial pitch.