I started following @CleanEatingAlice almost three years ago, when I really needed more positive role models. I began by visiting her page every once in awhile, and soon, I just couldn’t stay away. Alice’s positive messages and direct responses and interaction with her followers appeared so genuine, and her advice was always effective.
When I reached out to her for this project, it was surprisingly difficult to get in touch. After over a week from my original, heartfelt direct message, I hadn’t heard anything back. Alice is currently rebranding from Clean Eating Alice to simply, Alice Liveing, and I began questioning her authenticity – was she really ignoring the message of a follower asking for help with a school project, when her career was made possible by her Instagram followers? When I saw a sponsored post for Herbal Essences next, I couldn’t help but write a blunt comment about how I felt – in the midst of this rebrand, and following a simple request, I was questioning whether or not her persona was authentic. Within minutes, I received a hurt direct message from Alice, and a promise to help me however she could. In the conversation that followed, I realized that Alice was either being smart about her image, or she really was just busy and inundated, and trying her hardest to stay genuine. Either way, such an interaction revealed one of the unique problems facing Alice in her career, and all social media influencers and their admirers: how do you stay authentic in a world and a career dominated by social media?
Alice answered this question, as well as how she arrived as an influencer in the first place, while sharing her very relatable experiences and delivering important wisdom and advice.
You're still early in your career, but you've already experienced many different types of work. Where do you mark the beginning of your career? How did you get your start?
I started blogging to document my own personal lifestyle change around three years ago whilst I was still studying at university. I attended Bird College in South London where I studied professional musical theatre and whilst as a student, I never really saw my blog as a career as I was using it more for personal reasons than as a platform with which I made a profit. On graduating university, I then went straight into a job touring the UK in the musical “Annie,” and I would say that it was at this point things really started to take off with my blogging career too. Whilst I wasn’t earning money from my blog at this point, I definitely shifted my focus to providing a combination of educational content rather than just documenting my own journey.
From your stories and posts, it's clear that you're a passionate person. Whether in your day-to-day life or your career - what motivates and inspires you?
I’m inspired and motivated by the people that follow me most. I feel that having been at a complete low in terms of body confidence and desperation as to what to do when I began my own journey, I can really empathise with people who find themselves in a similar situation. For that reason, I will never lose motivation to helping people begin their own health journeys and debunking a lot of the rubbish that still crowds the wellness industry.
What has been the greatest influence on how you've decided to shape and mold your career?
I think my own journey has really shaped and influenced how I want to progress my own career. I feel that I can really empathise with the people that find themselves in a similar situation to the one I was in, whether that’s my clients or my followers, and that means that I can therefore tailor my content to be specific to those people.
What was it like when your online following began to transform you from blogger to influencer? Was there a point when you saw a tangible growth in followers? How did you grow your followers?
I think when I started to see myself in the press I realised that my blog was really growing beyond what I’d ever imagined it would. I never set out to get followers, in fact my Instagram was initially my private food diary that I’d rather no one saw, but after a few positive exchanges with people online I realised that there was a whole community of people that could help me stay motivated and so I made my page public.
That being said, my desire to grow my followers has never been my mission. I enjoy the fact that I keep my page very real and similar to the day I started and I don’t try and be something I’m not for likes or followers. Organic growth is key for me, so I just keep doing my thing and hoping people still enjoy it.
Amassing such a huge following on a medium known for blurring the lines between "real" and "fake" in more than one sense seems like a great challenge. How do you remain authentic?
I believe in showing both the rough with the smooth. It’s nice to share nice photos, and I do enjoy creating a beautiful photo, but I also like to show that life isn’t always perfect too. With the introduction of Instagram stories and lives, Snapchat and such like it’s been far easier to show a true reflection of my life beyond beautifully edited photos and I think this has been a welcome and positive progression.
What's your greatest career challenge?
Juggling everything and finding time to have a life too! Being self employed means that I can essentially work 24/7 and I find it very difficult to switch off sometimes.
What do the terms "success" and "failure" mean to you?
Success = health and happiness, security and fulfilment. Failure = feeling unfulfilled and not achieving things I’d really hoped to achieve
What do you think is the greatest challenge for women regarding social media? What's the most advantageous aspect of social media for women?
I think women can be challenged beyond social media, but social media amplifies the desire for perfection. It can feel as though everyone you follow has the perfect life causing some to suffer serious anxiety. I have many clients who idolise people on social media which in turn makes them feel totally inadequate.
I do believe there are positives to social media too. I love the sense of community that I feel from Instagram and it was one of the main reasons I continued on my own journey.
What's the greatest risk you've ever taken? Would you take it again?
I gave up a career in theatre to pursue my career with blogging and personal training. It was a huge risk, and I was terrified, but I would definitely do it again if I was given the option.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Never a failure, always a lesson. Take a positive from each wrong turn instead of focusing on the negative impact of it.
What do you think is the most important quality(ies) for people to cultivate and develop as they venture out into the world?
Ambition, tenacity, inquisitiveness, compassion, empathy and hard work.
What's your greatest advice for women starting out in their careers?
Have confidence in everything you do. You are good enough, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
What do you hope your legacy will be?
I hope that I leave a legacy of being the girl who showed that anyone can achieve something they set their mind to. I’d written myself off as being untalented, I was desperately unhappy and I had no idea where my life was going. From a little self belief I secured my dream job in a musical, wrote three bestselling books and created a career I never thought I could.