The rise of influencer culture has transformed the ways in which we interact with, and gain insight into, the lives of those we admire. As such, influencer followership can and does grow into the millions. An influencer’s appeal is largely linked to the high level of transparency that they provide on their platforms; a degree of authenticity that was not usually seen by public figures before. However, as their fan bases increase and the pressures of being in the limelight are felt, it is not uncommon for the openness (which was once a driver of their success) to reduce. Influencer and business woman Patricia Bright shares discusses refreshingly honest approach, relentless hustle and ambition which has made her one of Britain’s biggest social media successes.
Patricia Bright is a born and bred South London native, whose parents migrated to London from Nigeria. Bright’s hardworking mother encouraged both herself and her sister, Maureen, to pursue education. “We worked hard in school, looking to take the traditional route of becoming a doctor or lawyer” she says. As she grew, her interests shifted and she chose to study accounting and finance at university, seeking to better her understanding of financial management.
It was during her time as a student that she discovered YouTube vlogging which, combined with her love of beauty and fashion, led to an interest in posting content online. “Social media wasn’t what it is today, it was this ‘new’, underground space that allowed us to connect around the world. I had an online community of women that I could talk to, but I was also studying and working at the same time” Bright recalls.
Despite a small following initially, she continued posting video content online that showcased her passion of make-up and styling, as well as her bubbly and infectious personality. It was a juggling act that required a significant investment of time and energy; Bright remembers occasionally having to apologize to her followers for the lack of new uploads, due to other commitments. After graduation, Bright landed a job at a top tier investment bank, however was determined to continue working on her passion project.
Taking a Leap Of Faith
During her years working in the financial industry, first in banking and then at a Big Four consultancy firm, Bright experienced significant growth in the engagement on her YouTube channel, thus balancing the two commitments became increasingly difficult. Additionally, whilst “there was still no defined business model in the industry” there were clear indications that the platform “could become something which is financially beneficial.” She wanted to take a leap and pursue YouTube full time, however later resolved that she needed more time to figure it out. At this point, Bright shrewdly found a role at a multi-channel networking company that focuses on YouTube as its main distribution network and which was part-time. Here, she was able to increase her understanding of the platform, whilst also having two extra days a week to focus on her projects on YouTube and now also on Instagram, which had opened additional opportunities. Just six months later, her channel showed increased potential to earn revenue, therefore she quit as she was now able to support herself full time.
Although it may not appear obvious, the scaling up of operations for a social media influencer and YouTuber bears much similarity to that of any other commercial business. Initially, Bright attempted to “do it all” but quickly realised that “content creation is time consuming as it requires scripting, planning, shooting, editing and sound; if I did everything, that would consume all of my time” she says. Bright hired key individuals into her team, the first being her sister who had relevant experience in account management and public relations. Maureen was able to liaise with clients and brands who were looking to collaborate. Bright has brought on staff in varying capacities, from those managing the content side, to others building out other product businesses whilst leveraging the “Patricia Bright” brand. Interestingly enough, Bright mentions that “one of the hires actually came from a Facebook direct message and the individual became the employee that I had worked with for the longest period of time” she says. The support of her team allows Bright to focus on growth and partnerships, a function which forms a large part of the role of most CEOs.
Paying It Forward
Almost ten years after her first video upload, Patricia Bright now has over 2.9 million YouTube subscribers, 1.2 million Instagram followers and, to date, has worked with world-renowned companies such as Dior, Amazon and Coca-Cola. Her success story attracts a constant influx of questions around starting a business and pursuing your passion. Bright sees the need to “pay it forward” and help others in the position she was once in. “I’ve ended up learning a lot from my mistakes over the years, and I am all about financial literacy, particularly amongst women, so I want to help them avoid those mistakes” she says. Last year, Bright collaborated on and authored a self-help book titled “Heart & Hustle” where she outlines the ways in which her readers can take their passion and establish businesses within the digital space, as well as breaking down the importance of possessing the right mindset. “I’m not a writer” Bright states, “so I was very lucky to work with the publisher that I did. They helped me on that journey, which was far more difficult than I would have ever imagined, in order to get the standard of product that I wanted.”
Extending this desire to help women around the world, Bright launched The Break Platform last year. “I named it ‘The Break’ to represent the gap between what you see as a ‘good’ lifestyle and how you build a plan to actually get there” she says. The platform has a 9-week course named ‘The Break’ which, with over ten modules, provides practical steps on building a social media or online product-based business. The course breaks down the nitty gritty details of establishing a business; from incorporation to taxes to setting up a business account, as well as providing other resources, such as templates. Bright has ensured that the course is structured to build up from the basics to more complex, but important, aspects. The other side of The Break platform is geared towards those who are not necessarily interested in social media or business per se but are looking to improve their financial literacy. A simple tool that she developed is the monthly budgeting planner, which accumulated 15,000 downloads. The platform also has its own YouTube channel and podcast ‘Caught Off Guard’ which includes a series of interviews featuring successful and inspiring business people from a range of industries. The YouTube content also covers areas such as personal productivity and property ownership and investment, all within a digestible video format.
Bright mentions that she “has plans for many more resources to be launched on the platform later this year, which I’m excited about.” She is confident about demystifying the elements involved in becoming successful.
Something that is particularly inspiring about Patricia Bright’s journey is the degree of structure and planning that has gone into. Naturally, many highlights have been achieved, yet Bright does not shy away from the fact that pure hard work, initiative and focus are some of the secrets to her success; simple yet critical truths that are often missed out. Bright’s frank and pragmatic approach, coupled with her sincere desire to support others in meeting their potential, guarantees an impact on the world that goes well beyond the internet age.
Photo Source: Courtesy of Patricia Bright