Flora-Beverley (1)

The Influence Room Podcast- Changing the dialogue Flora Beverley

Posted on Jan 6, 2020 4:43:57 PM

In this weeks podcast, we chat to the fabulous Flora Beverley about her career, the work she does in sustainability and the responsibilities that come with having a large following. 


Overview

For someone who was never sporty as school, Flora has grown her platform with content that shows her passion for fitness and food. Flora is no stranger to taking on challenges. She has completed the last 30 km of the Tour de France, ran the Tokyo marathon and took part in two charity boxing matches. Now, she is set to take on the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge. 

As well as her fitness side, she consults for her sister’s brand TALA around sustainability. Studied as part of her degree, Flora is trying to share what she knows with all her followers to have a positive impact and encourage sustainable behaviour. 

When discussing the role of an influencer, Flora emphasises the importance in knowing exactly what your message is and not weakening that by trying to do too many things at once. Additionally, she talks about how cyberbullying is incredibly prevalent on social media. But with age she has grown a thicker skin, and learnt to ignore the negative comments. What is inspiring about Flora is the way she encourages people to talk about their concerns as she feels she is still learning in the industry. 

Five quick takeaways:

  1. The term influencer has got negative connotations because it’s an umbrella term. It encompasses everyone with a big following on social media, which has people who take no responsibility in what they are sharing and will promote anything they get paid to promote.
  2. Having a small following but highly engaged, is generally what a brand wants. Followers are more likely to trust what they say when they promote an item.  
  3. The great thing about social media is it gives a platform to people who don't necessarily have the money to build a platform for themselves.
  4. If you are a micro influencer with no agency, ‘know your rights, understand payment terms and get a contract if you can.’
  5. Advice for people getting into being a fitness creator, ‘if your reason for doing it is to get famous or to get money, you probably will fail before you've even really started.’

If you enjoyed this episode and don’t want to miss the rest of the series, you can follow The Influence Room Podcast on Spotify and Apple iTunes podcasts.


 

Full audio transcription

- Bronagh

Hello, and welcome to The Influence Room Podcast. I've got Alex back with me this week.

- Alex

Nice to be home.

- Bronagh

He was on hiatus last week.

- Alex

I was in Tangier.

- Flora Beverley

Did you have a nice holiday?

- Alex

I had a very nice holiday. I've never been to Tangier before. It's a sort of hotspot for misfits, bohos, [sooks 00:00:21]. It was absolutely incredible. I highly recommend.

- Flora Beverley

What do you fall into?

- Alex

All three. Foot in every camp, thank you very much. No, it was very cool, hot and sunny.

- Bronagh

Much deserved holiday.

- Alex

Hot and sunny, and cooler than London, which is an extraordinary thing to be saying about Morocco.

- Bronagh

Well, this week we have got the fabulous Flora Beverley on the podcast. I actually came across Flora through The Influence Room when I first started because I remember that Flora had done a few bits. Then I also know Flora's sister, Grace Beverley. I used to work in a company called Glean who represents Grace, and Flora and Grace are really great role models in the fitness and wellness sector. Both have big, big followings, but both put out really interesting, informative, fun ... I guess fun is probably the overarching word I would use for the content that they put out there because I think a lot of people take themselves far too seriously in that.

- Alex

I would wholly agree with that.

- Bronagh

We were just really keen to chat to Flora about her career, a little bit about sustainability, a little bit about the responsibilities that people have when they've got these huge followings. We're both really excited to get Flora.

- Alex

She's way ahead of the game as well.

- Bronagh

She is.

- Alex

I'd like to know the lottery numbers for this weekend [inaudible 00:01:36] recording it as well, but a really entertaining, really interesting conversation.

- Bronagh

Also, thank you to NTL, who produce this podcast. NTL provide lots of behind the scenes content, so if you go into the app and you select this episode anything we talk about specific to sort of press links or pictures, we'll be able to insert that into the recording. Just check that out.

- Bronagh

Hello, and welcome back to The Influence Room Podcast. Today we've got Flora Beverley with us, known as Food Fitness Flora online. Flora, thanks so much for joining us today.

- Flora Beverley

No worries. Happy to be here.

- Bronagh

Great. We've actually just been talking a little bit about our mutual love of podcasts this morning and you've done two podcasts before.

- Flora Beverley

Yeah.

- Bronagh

But this is going to be the best one that you've done.

- Flora Beverley

Obviously.

- Alex

Right, yeah.

- Bronagh

No, we-

- Alex

Which ones have you done before? I'm interested.

- Flora Beverley

I did one with Grace Kingswell, who is a nutritionist, and then a couple for the University of Bristol as well.

- Alex

Oh, did you?

- Flora Beverley

Way back.

- Alex

Way back 

- Bronagh

Tell us a little bit about your ... You studied biology?

- Flora Beverley

I did at Bristol University. Yeah, absolutely loved it.

- Bronagh

Tell us a little bit about what that entails, because I guess as a fitness content creator you do have a little bit more expertise, might we say, than maybe most.

- Flora Beverley

Yeah. I'm not sure that biology leads into fitness per say, but it does give you a bit of a background in research and understanding the importance of primary literature, and not just looking at headlines and taking them at face value. You've actually got to look a little bit into the background and biology definitely teaches you to take everything with a bit of a pinch of salt. Look at primary literature rather than just what's in the Daily Mail.

- Bronagh

I mean, the fitness industry has just ... It's like gargantuan now. It has blown up so much in the past few years. I'm aware that you have been a big sports fan from a really young age. Sports fitness has been a huge part of your life. How has sport influenced you say from a young age to what it means to you now?

- Flora Beverley

I was very active when I was younger, but I wasn't very into sports. Oh god, my parents, they're going to sound like dragon parents. I did a lot of sports when I was five until eight years old. I did character dancing, tap dancing, ballet, gymnastics, all the sports that you have to do at school anyway. I was super active, but very, very bad at any sort of team sport. I was one of those people that when I got to secondary school I would always be the last person picked in the teams. I just was not seen as sporty. I was much more kind of academic and musical, and that sort of stuff.

- Flora Beverley

It wasn't until maybe I was 16 years old, when we didn't have to do team sports anymore and I could actually choose something else, that I found squash, which of course is not a team sport. You're literally in a glass box by yourself with your opponent. I realized that actually I was super into fitness and super into being active in sports. I just can't play with other team members, which probably says a lot about me, but I did love it. That was what probably led to my love of fitness now. It's suddenly realizing, oh, it's not that I was bad at sports. It was that I was bad at all the sports I'd tried up to that point and there were loads of other things out there. That's the kind of message as well that I try to get out on my Instagram and all of the rest of my social medias.

-  Bronagh

Would you say your influence came from your schooling, or did you see other people in your network that you were influenced by?

- Flora Beverley

Initially definitely my schooling. I always wanted to be one of those sporty people, but I never was. I had this friend who was insanely cool, who was super sporty as well. I was like, "Oh god, I wish I could be like that," and I just wasn't. Then it wasn't until I was about 17, when I started my Instagram, that I started to see other people going to the gym and having these training plans. I was like, "Oh my god, people actually have some structure to their workouts." Then I started doing all sorts of different sports. Running, athletics, horse riding, squash, going to the gym, which people thought I was insane for by the way. Back when it was not a cool thing to do. I'm very pleased that that's changed actually. That's something that, since I started, more and more so it's seen as quite a cool thing to be fit, and to be healthy, and to be focusing on that a little bit more, whereas back then it was like if you had to go to the gym you had to smoke afterwards.

- Bronagh

Well, that's sort of where I was getting at. I feel people are so influenced by who they see on Instagram now and fitness has just become this thing that is fashionable. I guess there is a danger there because people, they're going into the gym. They feel like maybe they have to be a certain body size. I guess I just wanted to get your perspective on that. What would you advise someone who maybe wants to start getting into the gym and they're seeing all these perfect figures online? Maybe they don't have the knowledge or maybe the right sorts of influence in their life.

-  Flora Beverley

Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of people, when they start the gym, start potentially for the "wrong" reason. When I first started the gym, it really was to lose weight and to look a certain way. It was purely aesthetic goals and I think a lot of people have the same experience there, but of course being active has a myriad of other benefits. Just to touch on that for a second, the mental health benefits of sport is the reason that I actually continued sports long after I realized that it wasn't really doing any favors to my body. I wasn't losing weight really, but I felt so much better. I was like, "You know what? If this isn't going to make me lose weight, but it's going to make me feel like I don't need to lose weight, then I'm going to keep going because that actually in the end has the same effect."

- Flora Beverley

Like you said, I do think that when people first start going to the gym they feel a little bit intimidated maybe. I know that I definitely did and it was a really small gym. It was just filled with other people at school who I thought were very judgmental. They probably weren't. They probably weren't even looking at me, but as someone who has never stepped foot in a gym before you feel like everyone is looking at you, like everyone knows that you have no idea what you're doing. I think everyone has experienced that to some extent. Even when I go into a new fitness class, for example, I still get the same thing. Everyone knows where the classes are, where the studios are, where the changing rooms are, and everyone knows that you're not allowed to wear your spinning cleats downstairs, for example. I had this exact experience yesterday, and I'm pretty confident when it comes to working out now. I've been doing it for long enough, but I still get that experience when I go somewhere new.

-  Flora Beverley

I think the first thing to think is, A, that probably no one is looking at you. That's what my mom always used to say. "It doesn't matter what you look like. No one is looking at you anyway. Just go for it." Also, going with a friend might really help. I know a lot of people feel slightly anxious when they're by themselves, but if they know that they're going with someone else you always know that if you start to feel a little bit uncomfortable you can just turn around to them and have a little chat or something.

- Flora Beverley

Then also having a personal training session might really help because going to the gym is not difficult, but it is actually a skill. Getting the right form when you're working out, understanding which exercises might go together, what sort of muscles that they work, that is all a little bit of education. You can get that really easily with a personal training session or just a couple. That can also give you some confidence in the future to know, when you go to the gym, what to do. Last but not least, maybe try a 12 week training guide. Choose them wisely. There are a lot of bad ones out there, but there are also a lot of good ones out there. Just try that for 12 weeks. You can't do that for the rest of your life, but it is a good way of getting into fitness and giving it a go.

- Bronagh

Very good pieces of advice.

- Alex

I think that's really interesting because actually a lot of what you ... I mean, I'm way past it, but I recognize a lot of what you're talking. I wander around the gym aimlessly for hours, sort of trying to find someone to talk to, to sort of prevent myself from getting on the treadmill. The other thing I wanted to ask you about is ... I mean, Bernie, you were talking about the explosion of fitness content out there and everybody's got to look a certain way. I would love to find someone who would give me really good advice in terms of going to the gym, but if you start to look for advice you're going to get it from everywhere. It's very difficult, I find, to find the right person to relate to. What products, what supplements should you be taking, what workouts should you be doing? I'm 40 and over the hill. What should I be doing? I wonder how you differentiate the content you produce. You've obviously got a scientific background and you put a huge amount of work into it. If you spend any time on Instagram you can find quite a lot of people who are chucking out advice probably without that kind of qualification. How do you try and differentiate your content, that authenticity?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, just to clarify, I don't actually have any qualifications in either nutrition or personal training. Those are routes that I'd like to go down for me, and I'm very clear about that on my social media. I don't want people coming to me, me giving them advice, and them thinking, "Oh, that must be true." I kind of want people to think a little bit for themselves because, like I said earlier, I do think that people see a headline and suddenly assume that that is how it is. That's not. That's one headline. That might be one study that suggests one thing and there are 150 other studies suggesting the opposite, but yeah, I would say be careful who you follow on social media.

- Flora Beverley           

You might follow a model, for example, because you think that they go on really nice holidays and it's a little bit aspirational. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, as long as it doesn't make you feel bad about yourself, but maybe don't take nutritional advice from them. Sure, they have a great body, but it doesn't mean that they know how to feed it properly. Likewise with an athlete. You might be more likely to follow them for fitness advice, or if you're following a doctor they might know a lot about [inaudible 00:11:54] and strains, and issues with your muscles, but they might not know about nutrition. Not everyone knows about everything and you just have to be a little bit careful and take everything with a pinch of salt that you read online.

- Bronagh

I've been looking through your professional experience and you've got quite a bit of experience consulting on the social media side of things. Tell me a little bit more about that. What was it that interested you about social media and how have you kind of built your craft?

- Flora Beverley

Like I said, I started over seven years ago now on my own social media, so I've been going at it for a very long time. That was before hashtags even existed, so a while ago. Then when I finished university, so I obviously studied biology at university, and I was doing a lot of blogging back then. A lot of putting science and nutrition and fitness into layman's terms from primary literature.

- Flora Beverley

I then went in to work for The Society of Endocrinology and then for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in their press office, working on statements and press releases. I was also primarily there to help with their social media because for a lot of businesses now the recruitment that they get within the business, not only for employees but also for the Royal College, people are just going into obs and gyne as a career path. It does revolve quite a lot around social media and they were finally starting to realize that they're not getting young people through newsletters at their local doctors. They're getting young people through social media, and so it's really, really important to have a strong social media presence. I went into the company to help them target the right audience. Over the year and a bit that I was there, we saw the Twitter following grow to over 20,000 people-

- Bronagh

Amazing.

- Flora Beverley

Which was incredible. The Instagram only started up about halfway through, but it's already at nearly 10,000, which is really great. There are different audiences for Twitter and Instagram, so that was actually quite a diverse audience that we were having there. Then from there I went freelance last November. God, it was a busy week actually. I had a boxing fight on the 16th. No, I had a boxing fight on the 17th of November-

- Alex                            

Sorry, who did you fight?

- Flora Beverley

No one at the business, don't worry.

- Alex

I'm sitting up a little straighter all of a sudden. Did you win?

- Flora Beverley

I did win.

- Alex

You did win.

- Flora Beverley

It was great. It went really, really well.

- Alex

TKO or just a sort of points decision?

- Flora Beverley

No, it's not for knockout. It was for points.

- Flora Beverley

I've done two now.

- Alex

Have you?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah. That was my first one. 

- Alex

These are sort of white collar boxing?

- Flora Beverley

White collar. Yeah, exactly.

- Alex

Amazing.

- Flora Beverley

But that was a busy week. I went freelance and then the next day had a boxing fight.

- Alex

Wow.

- Flora Beverley

It was great. It was a brilliant week.

- Flora Beverley            

Yeah, sure. Yeah, from then on I kind of wanted to help more charities. The Royal College is also a registered charity, but I wanted to help businesses that have a giveback to the community. I've been working with a brand called Freida, which is an organic period products subscription service that also gives a portion of profits to UK based period poverty initiatives. They help asylum seekers, refugees, homeless people. It's an amazing, amazing business, and the fact that they work with so many charities as well makes you feel really good working for them.

- Flora Beverley

Then I manage their accounts, but I also consult various other people who have an element of doing good, whether that is just giving out good advice on social media or actually working as a charity, or with charities. I like to do it all.

- Bronagh

What's the process? Obviously each company that you consult to will have to have a different sort of tone of voice. What is the process of defining what that is?

- Flora Beverley

It's very much a conversation. I like to get to know the brand as if I was working within the brand or organization. That involves basically following them for a while, understanding the sort of message that they want to get out there, and having plenty of phone calls and meetings with them just so that I know that when I'm suggesting bits of content it's actually totally on brand for them.

- Bronagh

Another thing that we always talk about with our guests is what influence means to you, because basically the premise of this podcast is there are ... I think when you say the word influence at the minute it very much denotes a certain type of influence, which is-

- Alex

Instagram

-  Bronagh

Instagram, yeah, product placement in Instagram posts, but what we are trying to do is sort of broaden that out to say that influence means so much more than that. What does influence mean to you? Is it a positive or is it a negative term?

- Flora Beverley

The term influencer has got such negative connotations and I think that is because it's such an umbrella term. It encompasses everyone from politicians, to models, to people who travel a lot, nutritionists. It literally encompasses anyone with a big following on social media. I think that is where the negativity comes in because you get people who have no sense of responsibility sharing quite frankly dangerous bits of information online and also just absolutely promoting anything that they will get paid to promote. I think that brings the term right down into the dirt for the rest of us. Which is a shame because I think there are also a lot of people who are doing a lot of good. The great thing about social media is it gives a platform to people who don't necessarily have the money to build a platform for themselves. Some of the best brands we have out there have grown because social media has enabled them to grow. They're great brands, but they wouldn't have got the coverage that they needed without a huge marketing budget, which of course a lot of startups don't have. I think social media has so many positives in that sense. When it comes to influencers, I think there needs to be another term for people who are actually quite talented. Photographers who share really good content, nutritionists who are putting important information out there, that has some scientific backing behind it, people who actually share information that needs to be shared and that can get paid doing it, but are not necessarily influencers in the negative sense of the term. I think as part of this discussion we came up with the idea of talent, which as it says on the box is someone who is talented and actually has something other than just what they look like, for example, to back them up.

- Alex

Can I just say that you've absolutely nailed it?

-  Bronagh

Yeah, that's absolutely it.

- Alex

We've been talking about what we are for three years. I think you've absolutely nailed, A, the problems, and B, sort of what the opportunity is moving forwards. Is it worth you explaining how we split our members? Because I like to refer to our members of The Influence Room as people of influence and I am as interested in having a journalist, a taste-maker, a chef, an explorer on the site as I am an Instagram or a YouTube, et cetera. I love people who have really interesting stories and will take a brand with them on that journey.

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, not to mention even if they have quite a small following. That following will be highly engaged and that's exactly what a brand wants. For example, if it's a brand specific to outdoor adventures, you don't necessarily want someone with 100,000 followers, bearing in mind I'm at basically 100,000 followers, so I'm not doing a disservice to those people. It's more that you want people who are following someone for that exact thing, so you want an explorer with maybe 2,000 or 5,000 followers, with an audience that are highly engaged and are much more likely to basically trust what they say when they promote an item.

- Alex

I've always said I'd much rather have somebody on the site working with an outdoor brand who has 20,000 followers and is off to climb the three peaks for a charity and has got a really interesting story to tell around why they're doing it. That person to me is far more influential and far more interesting than somebody with 200,000 followers who will take the coat and pose against a brick wall.

- Bronagh

Sure.

- Alex

I'd much rather have 20,000 interesting storyteller than 100,000 who poses in beige every Tuesday because that's the sort of feed that she/he has created. Do you know what I mean?

- Flora Beverley

I do.

- Alex

I think for me that's where the [inaudible 00:20:27] influencer is moving-

- Flora Beverley

I was about to say that.

- Alex

It's you're going to have to be telling really genuine, authentic stories which brands plug into, as opposed to just brands paying you to promote their product.

- Flora Beverley

Yes, absolutely, and I think that's the importance of having a strong brand message as well. I think a lot of people have tried to diversify a lot because it appeals to a larger range of people, but that also weakens your message. When I am consulting people, I say, "Look, it is great to be able to appeal to lots of people, but it is also important to know exactly what your message is and not weaken that by trying to do too many things at once."

- Alex

Yeah, very interesting.

- Bronagh

I think people also underestimate the responsibility that you've got when you start to have huge, huge followings online. I mean, I can't imagine the anxiety you must feel if you're someone with millions of followers.

- Flora Beverley

Sure.

- Bronagh

Every single message that you put out there has an impact, even if it is an impact for five seconds. Unfortunately for younger people this is an industry that I would say a big portion of people want to get into. It's like the celebrity sort of ecosystem before. There was a whole shift towards I just want to be famous and now it's I want to be an influencer. It's actually why do you want to be famous, why do you want to be an influencer because your whole life then becomes up for scrutiny-

- Flora Beverley

Absolutely.

- Bronagh

You have to really stick to your guns and your message. I mean, not to put a detriment on it. There is so much opportunity then because, like you said, people who maybe are trained nutritionists, that is such valuable information to be able to get online. However, it is about understanding that value and understanding the implications that come with that.

- Flora Beverley

Definitely. I think it's a pressure that a lot of at least my friends feel. I think there are a lot of people who would put anything out and not really care, nor even think about it for two seconds, but certainly my friends feel a lot of pressure when it comes to sharing a particular message. You say, "Look, this is what works for me," and someone will be like, "Oh my god, I tried that and it didn't work for me." It's like, okay, but that's not actually what I'm saying. I'm saying this worked for me. When you have 100,000 people, or 500,000, or a million people looking at you, there's bound to be someone that doesn't like it. You just have to accept that. Cyber bullying unfortunately is incredibly prevalent on social media. A lot of people will say, "Oh, it's just freedom of speech," but it's not.

- Alex

Have you experienced that yourself?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah.

- Alex

Really?

- Flora Beverley

Absolutely. Not terribly, not really, really badly, but earlier this year I had some. After I did Tokyo Marathon I received some messages saying, "I can't believe you did it so slowly," and I was like, "I just did a fucking marathon." I'm sorry.

- Alex

We're free speech in this place. Keep going.

- Flora Beverley

I just thought it was really bizarre, the people who were saying, "You went out to Tokyo to do a marathon and you did it slowly. That's not good enough." I went, "Okay, but it's 42 kilometers." That's quite a long way. I mean, I don't really understand the problem.

- Alex

Did you respond to them?

- Flora Beverley

If they message directly I do, yeah.

- Alex

Do you?

- Flora Beverley

Because the vast majority of the time when I actually speak to them as a human ... I think they don't expect me to respond, so when I actually speak to them as a human I realize they've probably just had a really bad day and they've said something off the cuff. I mean, it's something that they'd never say to their friends. It's something they'd never say to a member of their family, and when they realize that you're actually a human being, no matter how many followers you have, I think they back-step a little bit and they say, "Look, I'm really sorry. I actually just had a really crap day."

- Alex

Yeah, but that's an excuse. Here's a question for you. You started seven years ago?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah.

- Alex

Out of 10, how thick was your skin seven years ago relative today? How much did that kind of thing bother you?

- Flora Beverley

I've actually always been super sensitive.

- Alex

Have you really?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, always, so I'm definitely in the wrong industry. I would say back then maybe a two and now maybe a four.

- Alex

Really?

- Flora Beverley

I'm much better at ignoring it. Back then I didn't receive any negative responses from anyone. Now because it's my job I think I actually worry about it more and also I get more of it, but usually it's people calling me out on stuff that they are legitimate concerns. I don't really worry about things like that because I would rather people message me and said, "You posted this thing. I'm just a little bit concerned, like maybe this came across wrong." Then I can actually talk to them about it because I'm still learning. Just because I have followers on social media doesn't mean that I know everything. On the contrary, like there's so much stuff on social media from people who know absolutely nothing, so I'm happy to be called out on stuff that's really important.

- Flora Beverley

For example, using the wrong language around body shaming or something, like anything. I'm not necessarily the world expert in it, so I would like someone to message me and say, "Look, you could improve your language on that," as long as it's done in a respectful way that also understands that I am also human. I don't know everything.

- Alex

It is such a high wire act these days though. I mean, it's terrifying as someone who is way out the other side. What's interesting comparing is that my background is in broadcasting and I would say when I started I was fairly young, 24 I think, when I started on a channel called Sky Sports News. I would say I was a one out of 10 at everything, but there was no social media. Christ, if there had been social media when I started presenting, I would haven't seen it to day two and I had some absolute shockers. I remember the criticism. There was like forums and things like that and I remember occasionally going into them and just being like, A, what am I doing in here, and B, this is really, really bad.

- Flora Beverley

Dangerous, yeah.

- Alex

But I think age is the key to it all, and I find I get more now than ever before. It's funny. I've gone from being obsessed with the detail and really, really upset when it went wrong, and upset by the criticism, to absolutely no interest in the detail, love it when it goes wrong, and actually find it genuinely funny when people pile in. It's just so funny how-

- Flora Beverley

That's because you have confidence in yourself though.

- Alex

I think it probably is. I've done it for 15 years and it doesn't really matter. That I think almost is the key to it. It's you work out that none of this is actually very important.

- Flora Beverley

No.

- Bronagh

I agree.

- Alex

And I think, for me, just look at ... I mean, I'm very much outside the social media bubble. I don't really do it. I did get a lot of abuse after quite a high profile game I covered a few years ago and I was pissed in bed at 2:00 in the morning in New Zealand just firing back to all these people who had been extremely offended by what I'd been saying.

- Bronagh

Oh my god.

- Alex

But that's probably the last time I dipped into it. I just find there's such an intensity in social media now. When you were talking about using the wrong language in terms of body shaming, you're evidently and obviously not doing that deliberately.

- Flora Beverley

Of course.

- Alex

I just find that sort of like it's prey, leaping on victims. It's like a sort of pastime. It's extraordinary.

- Flora Beverley

People love to be right, so quite often I'll get messages from people saying, "I don't want to offend you, like I don't want to be patronizing, but I'd just like to let you know this." It's like, no, you don't necessarily want to offend me, but you do want to be right and you're not letting me know because you think it's the right thing to do. Quite often they're letting me know because they want to be seen to be right. Most people who message about, for example, language about race are white people. It's not necessarily the people who are actually impacted by the language that are messaging. If they were the ones who message, I would definitely take it more seriously and I think it's a difficult line to tread. I'm really open to learning thankfully and I never want to offend anyone, but quite often it is a case of I want to just show you that I know more than you, so I'm going to message you and let you know.

- Bronagh

It's all about learning in the public eye. Unfortunately a lot of younger people ... I'd say young people in the sort of entertainment, celebrity influence space, they have to make mistakes in the public eye. Again, it's like this is vitriol. "Oh my god, I can't," this real aggression. It's like, do you know what, someone is putting themselves out there to try and do something a bit different.

- Alex

The man in the arena. That was Roosevelt, wasn't it?

- Bronagh

Yeah, yeah, and you have to really command a lot of people. They may not be experts, but it's about understanding that it's a process of learning and education. I was going to talk a little bit about the challenges that you set yourself in terms of obviously you've done marathons and you just did the Tour de France.

- Flora Beverley

That's right.

- Alex

Excuse me. What did you do? The Tour de France?

- Flora Beverley

Oh, it wasn't the whole Tour de France, don't worry. The last 30 kilometers of the third stage-

- Alex

Wow.

- Flora Beverley

Which is the first Alpine stage, the first hilly one.

- Alex

Wow.

- Flora Beverley

Which was intense-

- Alex

Really?

- Flora Beverley

Especially for a non-cyclist.

- Alex

How did you end up doing that?

- Flora Beverley

Great question. It was so out of the blue. I was actually asked to do it two years ago and I was already in France at the time, but I couldn't do it because I was on a family holiday.

- Alex

Yeah, priorities are like that.

- Flora Beverley

And family comes first.

- Alex

Yeah, exactly.

- Flora Beverley

So I wasn't able to do it and I was absolutely distraught. Then I thought that opportunity is never going to come around again, and this year it did. I was in Denmark, so I flew straight from Copenhagen down to Paris, and then took a train to Paris to [Ross 00:29:59] in the [Eponay 00:30:00] region, which is where they were doing it. I was asked to do it by the people who organize the Tour de France, so it was pretty damn cool. It was through all the vineyards. It was so hilly, so hilly, and we had these amazing bikes, but the problem with amazing road racing bikes is they have no stability. Honestly, the first corner I ground to a halt because I put it on the wrong gear. I just couldn't even get up the hill and I was practically falling off of it because I had no idea what I was doing, but by the end of the 30 kilometers I was speeding along at 60 kilometers an hour.

- Alex

Flying, yeah, Peloton. Amazing.

- Flora Beverley

I came fifth out of about 25 people.

- Alex

Wow.

- Flora Beverley

So I was quite pleased with that. Second woman.

-  Alex

Are you into cycling anyway or was it just sort of an opportunity through-

- Flora Beverley

No.

- Alex

Literally they just said, "Come and try it."?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, pretty much. I love the idea of cycling. I do a lot of trail running and I really like just being outdoors in general. The fact that I was able to do this, I was like, "Actually it'll be a good opportunity to get into it," and I'm doing more and more now. I did a bit of BMX stuff or kind of like mountain biking a couple of weeks beforehand, which was like my practice for the Tour de France.

- Alex

Wow, I love it.

- Flora Beverley

A totally different thing, but it was great fun.

- Bronagh

How much of that process do you talk about on your channels?

- Flora Beverley

I actually talk about it a lot. I think I like to collect sports, so that's essentially what I do. I will try anything once. Cycling I'd like to try some more actually because I did really enjoy it, but I do anything from boxing ... The boxing match was ... God, I said no to it about three times before I said yes, and then I was asked to do another one about a month ago that again I said no to before I said yes. I won that one as well, which went really well.

- Alex

Two and O.

- Flora Beverley

Two and O.

- Alex

Love that 

- Flora Beverley

It's going well. I might keep it at that, as 100% win record, so we're good. The marathon, again, I will never do a marathon again. It just wasn't ... I loved the training, but the race itself just wasn't for me. Yeah, like I said, I'll try anything once. I love to share the preparation for it on my social media and I think people think I'm a little bit insane, which I don't really mind. They like to see the way that I prepare for these things.

- Flora Beverley

At the moment, I said I was going to take some time off challenges and I did. I took a month off. Now I'm doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks, which is 40 kilometers, 1,500 meters, 1,600 meters total elevation climb.

- Bronagh

Oh, wow.

- Flora Beverley

With a 12 hour time limit. You start at 6:30 in the morning and you just hike all day. I'm doing that with my boyfriend, who is very into these things as well.

- Alex

Right. Can I just ask you another question? You mentioned the cycling experience you'd done. Did you do that on your own? Was it with a brand or someone who said, "Do you want to come and do it?"?

- Flora Beverley

The Tour de France said-

- Alex

The Tour de France said, "Would you like to come and do it?"?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, and so they basically brought a group of people who did it.

- Alex

But I'm fascinated as to what that's like, when you just get pitched in with 25 other. I mean, were they celebrities, influencers, all sorts of journalists?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, mostly influencers, so not all of them ... A lot of them worked for the Tour de France and then a couple of them were influencers, and one or two were kind of the border between influencer and celebrity.

- Alex

When you get an opportunity like that and you all get together, is it quite a tight bond because you're all coming from a sort of similar thing, or is there an element of competition, or is there-

- Flora Beverley

It varies a lot. Actually we were so lucky with this one. Everyone was so sweet and it was so international as well. We had a Dutch girl, we had people from Germany, France, Spain ... Oh god, Denmark I think as well. We had people from everywhere and it was such a cool international group. Everyone really was very cool.

- Alex

Really?

- Flora Beverley

We had great conversations. It was really fun.

- Alex

But you have to put yourself out there for these things.

- Flora Beverley

You do, yeah, and as a naturally introverted person, believe it or not, I used to find that super duper difficult. Now I've got a lot more practice and I'm much better at least faking it until I kind of know the people. Then I feel much more at home. You know what? If I know that they are also there to have a good time and they have similar interests to me, I don't find it quite as intimidating as I used to.

- Alex

Yeah, fake it to make it. Key to everything.

- Bronagh

Before we started recording you mentioned how you were consulting on TALA, which is your sister's brand around sustainability.

- Flora Beverley

Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes.

- Bronagh

Now, I would argue that sustainability has come to the fore. I mean, the issue around sustainability and all sort of practices has come to the fore because of the internet. It really is something that ... I mean, back in, I don't know, offices and government, they know that this is an issue and this has been an issue for years. It's only really because the sort of social media generation are getting behind it that it's becoming a kind of-

- Alex

I think it's an awareness thing and a mobilization as well.

- Bronagh

Yeah, red alert.

- Alex

But there's a movement which has been generated by social media-

- Bronagh

Exactly.

- Alex

As well as the awareness factor.

- Bronagh

Tell us a little bit about sort of your experience.

- Flora Beverley

Part of my degree at Bristol was in sustainability, so we studied marine biology, conservation biology, and ecology, all of which factor into sustainability. When I left university, I then made it my job kind of to research a little bit more into that because I realized it's impacting not only every aspect of my life, but also everyone else's life. I thought, "Actually if I've got this many followers, I could probably make more of a difference than if I just took out my recycling." I started looking more into it and with the scientific background that I have I was able to share a lot of information that I think people weren't ... It wasn't really reaching people in a way that was easily understandable, so yeah, that was what I was trying to do a little bit more.

- Bronagh

Because it is sort of two worlds colliding. Both the fast fashion industry has escalated because of social media, but also sustainable fashion brands, so I guess at what point are we going to come to a collision? Because they can't both exist side by side.

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, they can't both exist. Agreed. It's difficult for me to say because the followers that I have are people who are interested in sustainability, so I've got a kind of echo chamber of people who already agree with me. I think, if I look at my followers, I'm like, "Oh my god, everyone is so woke. Everyone understands that fast fashion is a really bad thing. Whilst they might occasionally buy it, they're going to love it for seven years, 10 years, whatever." I don't think that's true of the general population and I think it's really important not to feel lulled into a false sense of security that everyone understands all of this stuff, which is why I think getting information out there on multiple different platforms, so hopefully reach lots of different people, is really important. Then lobbying government who do have a more cross-sectional view of society, and hopefully they can start doing things as well.

- Alex

Good luck with that.

- Bronagh

What sort of things interest your audience? Do they ask for your advice on things? What is sort of your interaction?

- Flora Beverley

God, so much interaction. I really, really like talking to my followers because they come up with all sorts of things that I hadn't even thought about. Also, my general follower base is anywhere between 18 and 35, so the things that they find important and want to know about is quite diverse.

- Flora Beverley

The thing that I think people engage most with was my marathon training because, although I have done a big series on my boxing training previous and boxing training I can tell you now is harder than marathon training, I think boxing is much less accessible and viewed not quite so positively as running, whereas running is something you could literally buy a pair of running trainers, lace them up, and head on out. That is really accessible for everyone and I think that's the great thing about running. Everyone wanted to know like how I was doing it, how I dealt with injury, and what my cross-training was, what my physio exercises were, just literally everything. That's probably something that people have engaged most with, but then also everyone loves stuff about sustainability. People love the articles that I share and I try to write about pretty much everything that I find important.

- Alex

Do you still do your blog?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, absolutely.

- Alex

You do?

- Flora Beverley

I've got three blog posts on the go at the moment.

- Alex

Have you really?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah.

- Alex

I think it's really ... Because another thing that we talk about in terms of one of the things I'd love to ask you is where you think this is going. Where will you be in three, four, five year's time, but for me I think to remain as a sort of A star person of influence you are going to have to talk about the things you do across a multitude of channels.

-  Flora Beverley

Agreed.

- Alex

So I think people will have to have podcasts, YouTube content, social, columns, broadcast media, radio, television, et cetera. You'll have to have more than just one string to your bow in order to be-

- Flora Beverley

Have longevity, yeah.

- Alex

Longevity, exactly.

- Flora Beverley

I agree, and again that's something I tell people that I consult because I call it cross pollination. Essentially what it is is you get people following you on YouTube who then want to find out more about your everyday life, so they head on over to your Instagram that you've linked obviously neatly in your caption. Then when they come and find you on Instagram, you do a swipe up to a tweet that you did or a blog post that they might find really interesting. Then they head on over there. It is important, I think, to have multiple platforms, but also the different platforms lend themselves both to different content and also to different audiences.

- Flora Beverley

The Twitter audience are slightly older. It's more kind of journalistic. They're more interested in politics and all that kind of stuff. The blog audience, they like reading long form. That's my older audience. It tends to be young people don't necessarily want to be reading 1,000 words on the importance of not over-training or whatever it is. Then my YouTube audience is much younger, so they want to be whilst they're doing their makeup in the morning they want to be watching a YouTube video on what I got up to that week or whatever it is. They're all so different and I do think it is important to have lots of them, as long as you're not spreading yourself too thin.

-Bronagh

How do you manage your time?

- Flora Beverley

With difficulty.

- Alex

What is your greatest time pressure?

- Flora Beverley

Probably the work that I don't set for myself, so sponsored posts, for example. The campaigns have deadlines and organizing shoots for them. It's probably the most difficult thing for me to do. Then also as I get older I place more emphasis on time off. I've never really done that before. I love the work that I do, and so I've always just been like, "Oh, it's absolutely fine to be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week," but it's not. It's not fine. Getting enough sleep, and getting enough rest, and time away from your phone and your laptop I think is as important to creativity as actually trying to do the work itself.

- Flora Beverley

I realized that after working full time at my science media job whilst also trying to get two blog posts out a week. One was a recipe and one was more of an opinion piece, whilst also setting up my YouTube, whilst doing my everyday content on Twitter and Instagram as well. I was like, "I've run out of things to talk about. I just can't come up with new bits of information." I realized that wasn't actually because I had actually run out of things to talk about. It was because I was so burned out. I had no creativity. I was writing statements and press releases all day, every day, and then getting home, going to gym, then trying to write statements ... Sorry, blog posts from about 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM, and just failing miserably. It wasn't until I quit my job that all my creativity came back and I was like, "Oh wow, actually time off really, really does help," and it's really important. It's also how can you write about life experiences if your entire life is spent working?

- Alex

Very true. I've been asking myself that for a while.

- Bronagh

I know.

- Alex

I'll tell you the other thing I was going to ask you. It's if you'd never set up your Instagram account seven years ago, what do you think you'd be doing today?

- Flora Beverley

Probably writing about science and health and fitness. Yeah. I mean, my Instagram following encouraged me to get more into fitness, and wellness, and health, nutrition, et cetera, but I've always been interested in it.

- Alex

That is interesting. You've been led by your audience as opposed to leading your audience.

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, I think-

- Alex

So it's a two way street.

- Flora Beverley

It goes both ways. Now I know what my brand is and I know that fitness is a part of my identity. If I didn't have that, I think I would really struggle, but initially I wasn't so sure about the whole fitness thing. Like I said, I've not always been that sort of person, so to start off I got people being like, "Oh my god, it's really helpful when you show yourself going to the gym or what training you're doing for your squash." I was competing in the National School's Championships when I was 17 and I was doing a lot of training around that. People loved seeing that. I was like, "Oh, okay, so maybe I should keep doing that." Even if I was like, "Oh, I wasn't actually supposed to be going to the gym today, but everyone wants to see me going to the gym, so I'm just going to go to the gym."

- Alex

Yeah, extraordinary.

- Bronagh

I want to finish up with a little piece of advice section. Not from me, from you.

- Flora Beverley

Please, give it to me.

- Bronagh

No. If there's people listening who would be interested in getting into either the fitness or the wellness space, what would your pieces of advice be as a content creator?

- Flora Beverley

The reasons for doing it is really important to look at. I think if your reason for doing it is to get famous or to get money, you probably will fail before you've even really started. I did four years of unpaid work before getting paid for a single post, and that was 20 quid each time.

- Alex

What was your first paid post?

- Flora Beverley

I remember my first unpaid posts where I got given things, and that was with Under Armor, so that was actually pretty cool.

- Alex

That is cool.

- Flora Beverley

But that was the start of social media advertising, so they clearly didn't have that kind of baseline of people with 50,000 or 100,000 followers, whatever it is. No one really had very many followers, so me with like 2,000 followers, people were like, "Can we give you some stuff?," and I was like, "Oh my god, yes, please." It was like a highlight of my week. I think understanding the reasons behind doing it are very important. If you love fitness and you love sharing that with people, you're probably good to go.

- Flora Beverley

Then get your message on point. Know what your message is and what you want to share with people. I think it's really easy when you follow a lot of people on social media to be like, "Oh my god, I want to be like her. I want to be like her. I want to share what they do." It's a cliché, but you are the only person who is you and if you're trying to be too many other people, like I said before, your message will get diluted.

- Bronagh

And you're with an agency as well, aren't you?

- Flora Beverley

I am.

- Bronagh

At what point did you decide to take on a bigger team?

- Flora Beverley

I had somewhere between 14 and 20,000 followers. I was getting like 1,000 followers every two days at that point. It was growing really quickly and I just couldn't. I was doing my finals at uni and I couldn't handle the volume of emails that were coming in, and so eventually I was like, "You know what?". I'm a total control freak, so I found it very difficult, but when I got a message from W Model Management, who are my current agency, I was like, "Yes, please. Just handle the emails. I don't mind that you take 20%. Honestly I just can't handle all of these right now." I think if you start saying no to too many jobs then people stop coming to you with jobs, and I think that's the case with everything in life. I just wanted to start. I wanted to be that person who said yes to a lot of things, and W really helped me with all of that.

- Bronagh

It's also worth having someone you can kind of get advice from and have maybe access to a legal team because, like we were talking earlier, it's a big responsibility to handle essentially what is a media brand.

- Flora Beverley

It's huge and also having an agency gives you some security when it comes to getting paid, debt collection, all that kind of thing. I have been massively screwed over in the past when I haven't gone through my agency for things, even things that are sort of just reimbursing payment for products. Not even things, hundreds of pounds of whatever, a payment for a post. Yeah, just trying to get people to pay you when you don't have a legal team to back you up and they know that you don't have a legal team. I had the same issue the other day with one of those apps that you can do, sponsor the posts through. Yeah, and I did a lot of research into it. There were lots of positive responses from it, and I think maybe in the past it has been quite good. I had to send 10 messages, 10 emails asking for them to pay me. It wasn't even the emails that eventually got it. It was people on social media. I didn't call them out initially because I'm not the sort of person to do that, but eventually on Twitter, and it's very useful to have Twitter for this reason, eventually I just said,

- Bronagh

Give me my money.

- Flora Beverley

Pay me. You've got to pay me. And it wasn't until Grace got in contact with them and was like, "Fucking pay her," that they eventually were like, "Oh my god, we're really sorry. It's a total misunderstanding." I was like, "Not paying your creators is not a misunderstanding."

- Bronagh

No.

- Flora Beverley

They do it because they know that they can.

- Alex

I imagine it's a bigger and bigger problem, as you know.

- Flora Beverley

For sure, and especially with micro influencers who are not with agencies and get their jobs via these apps that pay very poorly in general. They get absolutely screwed over, so I would say know your rights, understand payment terms, and get a contract if you can.

- Bronagh

Very good advice.

- Bronagh

For anyone who is listening, who maybe isn't following you yet, where can they find you?

- Flora Beverley

Everything is on my Instagram, which is @FoodFitnessFlora. That's got all the links to all my other channels. I've got Twitter, YouTube, which is Flora Beverley, and my blog, which please come and read because there's a lot of good content on there.

- Alex

Good plug. I've got one final question just before we wrap up. Where do you think you will be in two, three, four, five year's time? Where is this going?

- Flora Beverley

Diversifying.

- Alex

Do you think?

- Flora Beverley

Yeah, for sure. I love presenting. I love to reach an audience who are not necessarily just following me because they think my abs are great or whatever. I think I would like to be reaching people who actually like my message and where I can share something that's actually really important to the world.

- Alex

And what about the future of social media? I mean, is Instagram here to be the big dog forever or do you think others will come?

- Flora Beverley

No, absolutely not. I think YouTube will be here forever. I don't think that Instagram will be, but at the forefront of social media hopefully I'll be able to move wherever it goes.

- Alex

I had dinner with a fascinating bloke last night who said WhatsApp is the one to watch.

- Bronagh

Oh god.

-  Flora Beverley

Christ.

- Alex

He said WhatsApp is the one to watch.

- Flora Beverley

Great. Well, I'm on WhatsApp every second of every day.

- Bronagh

Constant communication.

- Alex

There you go, yeah.

- Flora Beverley

And TikTok.

- Alex

And TikTok, yeah.

- Flora Beverley

Also huge, yeah.

- Alex

Brilliant. Absolutely fascinating. Really, really enjoyed that. Thank you so much for your time.

- Bronagh 

Thank you, Flora.

- Alex

Amazing how sort of preemptive you've been, ahead of the game in terms of onto Instagram early, onto the sustainability early.

- Flora Beverley

Accidentally I might add actually.

-  Alex

Don't admit that. People will just be following your posts and see where else we should be going.

- Flora Beverley

I did it on purpose. Everyone, I did it on purpose.

- Alex

Yeah, absolutely brilliant.

- Bronagh

Subconscious gut instinct.

- Alex

Subconscious, that's very good. Thank you so much. Good luck with everything and lovely to chat. Thank you, Flora.

- Flora Beverley

Thank you for having me. Thanks.

- Bronagh

Thank you so much for listening to The Influence Room Podcast. If you want to learn more about the site, you can follow us on Instagram @TheInfluenceRoom and check out our website, and become a member if you're not already. We are really excited to hear about what you're doing, what you're passionate about, the stories you want to tell, and become part of the contra-economy.

 

 

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