Inside Influencing: What It’s Really Like Being TikTok Famous In Ireland

“I know what hard work entails.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by James Doyle (@jamesdoylefitness)

Everyone’s feed is filled with influencers.

They seem to be living life like superstars, attending glamorous parties, showing off lucrative brand deals and most of all, hauling in a ton of free stuff. But what happens after the parties are over and the camera is off? STELLAR chats with two of Ireland’s top content creators to get inside the world of TikTok fame.

Luck or hard work?

In recent years, being an online influencer has become a dream job for many. With the rise of social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, the potential to create content and amass a large following has become a reality for anyone with a public account. Studies have shown 78% of Gen Z now want to become online influencers. But is it that simple?

Fitness influencer James Doyle has amassed a massive following of 717,000 on TikTok (at the time of writing). Many refer to him as an overnight sensation after one of his videos blew up over his pronunciation of the word ‘protein bar’, or as James would say ‘protein bor.’

But is his fame down to the luck of the algorithm or his own hard work?


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by James Doyle (@jamesdoylefitness)

“A lot of people would say I blew up from the ‘protein bor’ trend but I actually didn’t gain as much as I lost from it,” he tells us. “As soon as I went viral my videos started to get millions of views and I gained about 150,000 followers in a week. After that, it just kind of stopped. Most people wouldn’t know I already had 70k followers organically, and had been posting consistently.

“Since starting TikTok last year I’ve only taken six days off. I don’t think protein bor did as much for me as people think. Yes, it got me a massive increase of followers but realistically it’s only stuck me with a nickname.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about influencers is that they don’t do any work. Everyone sees TikTokers living lavish lifestyles, getting exclusive brand deals and going on exotic trips. But is it really as easy as taking a few quick videos and logging off for the day?

“I know what hard work entails,” James says. “I started TikTok at the same time as working on a building site. My average upload was 5 or 6 times a day. This meant after working 12 hour shifts and going to the gym for two hours I would still have to post multiple videos on that day. It was physically and mentally draining. So my following isn’t necessarily down to luck. Instead, I say work hard enough and the luck will follow.”

Geritech via Pexels

The pressure of influencing

Speaking with James it’s clear one of the biggest challenges of this profession is the pressure to constantly create content and maintain a consistent online presence. Influencers are expected to produce high-quality content on a regular basis, which can be extremely time-consuming and stressful. Additionally, there is often a sense of competition among influencers, as everyone is vying for attention and engagement from their following. This can sometimes lead to a toxic culture of comparison and self-doubt, says James.

“Social media can be a lot of pressure,” he explains. “You’d think after someone goes internationally viral that they’d put their foot down and celebrate. For me, all I could think about was what if I just fall off? It gave me more drive to keep going.

“But I would also struggle, especially after social events. My social battery would be so depleted that I’d end up crying in the bathroom. Mentally it can be so draining and people don’t talk about it enough. Especially because I’m a fitness influencer I always feel like I have to look my best and that has come with its own struggles like body dysmorphia and anxiety.”

It’s no surprise that social media comes with its pressures, as more and more comment sections are being flooded with hate. It’s an ongoing battle with no clear victory – if you turn your comments off the trolls will think they’ve won, but if you keep them on, will it eventually get to you?

TikToker Lauren Whelan also knows all too well the issues that can come with a 1.6 million following. She explains: “I’ve started to turn hate into a positive thing because nobody above you will ever hate on you. Unfortunately, if you’re getting hate that’s how you know you’re doing something right.”

Lauren went on to say that due to the nature of her content she wouldn’t receive many hateful comments. “I have to say I’m very lucky,” she says. “I’ve never had a massive influx of hate. In the beginning [of starting TikTok] I used to get a lot of comments talking about my body and appearance and I struggled with my body image. I was only 16 at the time and it was a lot to deal with since I was still in school too.

“As cheesy as it sounds, my advice for anyone who wants to pursue social media, the main thing is to be yourself. At the end of the day people don’t want to only see beautiful pictures online, they want to see some personality attached to your content. Just be unapologetically yourself and don’t care what others think.”

Speaking on The Swipe Right Podcast, psychologist, author and TV presenter Richard Hogan says that the way we handle hate is down to our thought process – something that can be difficult to get a hold on.

“Influencers will get positive and negative comments but it’s usually the negative ones that stick with us,” he says. “That’s the way our brain is wired. Never listen to the words of someone you wouldn’t take advice from.

“The human craving for fame has always been around. Sometimes it can stem from early attachment issues, of wanting to be loved and liked. But fame is not guaranteed happiness, if anything it can highlight any insecurities you already have.”

Influencers can get a bad rep and are often viewed with social scorn. But, like all of us, it’s no fun to be trolled. So, if your account suddenly takes off or a video goes viral, remember to take the good with the bad, the likes with the dislikes, and don’t let the trolls drag you down.

By Zana Zee Keough