This week on our Micro-Influencers spotlight section, we feature a Body Positivity Advocate, Fashion, Food and Lifestyle Influencer Anthonia Okonji, popularly known as Thonia Bankz, by her community. Anthonia is also a communications associate at a tech venture capital firm in Lagos.

In this interview, Anthonia gets candid about her journey into life as an influencer and lets us into some trade secrets and advice for those who are on their way to becoming influencers.

Anthonia started as a fashion and lifestyle blogger, at thoniabankz.com where she talked about her style, shared fashion tips for curvy girls, lifestyle tips, career tips and reviewed restaurants. As time passed, most people stopped reading blogs, and it was clear that it was time for her to build her brand beyond her blog. So she started creating and posting quality content consistently on Instagram. Anthonia was able to grow her brand on Instagram, and that’s where her influencing journey started. 

This queen of enjoyment and self-care has multiple niches of influencing. We were intrigued to know what sparked her interest in Food, Fashion and Lifestyle.

“I have loved fashion and playing dress-up since I was a little girl, and I also loved going out and trying new things. 

While I was doing my NYSC in Ekiti state, I got so bored and was homesick until a friend advised me to start a fashion and lifestyle blog; he said I dressed so well and my writing skills were amazing.

I was confused because, at that point, I didn’t know what a fashion blog was, or what being a fashion blogger entailed, so I took my time and did some research. One night I opened a WordPress account on my phone, and that’s how it all started. 

I began sharing fashion tips for curvy girls like me and reviewed places I visited. The feedback was amazing, and I kept getting a lot of positive comments on my blog.”

Having multiple niches is great but without symmetry, it can look like a hot mess rather than fun and exciting. We asked Anthonia how she’s able to combine the three niches she has such that her community is not confused.

“Thonia Bankz is fashion, enjoyment, the baby girl life and all-around good vibes. I think, because that’s who I am personally, it wasn’t hard for my audience to understand me and my brand.

I don’t think any of them are confused as most of them already know that’s who I am, and now they’ve even started calling me T money (hahaha! I love them so much).”

Choosing brands to work with is a big part of being an influencer, and it is important to have a set of principles and standards for selection to preserve one’s reputation. As an influencer who has worked with several brands, we asked Anthonia how she selects brands to work with.

“I’m very big on body positivity, and I preach it every time to my audience. I use my platform to encourage people to love themselves and their bodies so you will never see my work with brands that sell body enhancement products, slimming tea, bleaching products or any brand that doesn’t align with me and what I stand for. 

I have reached out to a few brands to work with them, and it was a very great approach because, trust me, not all brands will find you, and it would be great to sell yourself; let them know who you are and what you can offer. 

Also, brands reach out to my team and I via my email, and that’s how we get to work on collaborations and partnerships.”

Anthonia has worked with brands such as; Eko Hotels & Suites, Jumia, Hype and Steam, Travelstart, Crepaway restaurant, Natural hair wigs, Chipper Cash, The House Cafe restaurant, and a host of others. Of all the brand partnerships she had, we wanted to know which she considers the most successful; in terms of the brand getting more sales and engagement. She answers, “I can’t pick one and say it was more successful than the others because they’ve all been great partnerships.”

When creating content for your audience, you can decide to keep it chill and not do the most, but when creating content for a brand, you have to get really creative to capture the audience and spark their curiosity. We asked Anthinia how she generates content ideas when working for a brand.

“I confirm from the brand what message they want me to pass across to my audience and the purpose of the partnership. Some brands just want awareness, some want more visibility, while others just want to make sales. 

As soon as I know all of this, I make sure the content I’m creating drives the desired message and that the purpose of the partnership is fulfilled.”

Anthonia’s 3 favourite apps for content creation are; InShot, Canva, and Lightroom. Most people shy away from content creation because it involves taking pictures and videos; and being masterful at it. As part of her job as an influencer, Anthonia has to create images and video content, and what we’ve seen so far is good. We sought to know if she took classes on this, learnt on the job or has a professional do them for her.

I shoot most of my pictures and videos myself, but sometimes I get my family and friends to assist.  I do all the editing myself, and I didn’t take any classes for that.  

I kept trying, failing, and getting great at it.  So keep trying!”

Outside of being an influencer, Anthonia has a full-time job; as a Communications associate at a tech venture capital firm. She also has a fashion and lifestyle online store called Shop Thoniabankz. Anthonia works Mondays to Fridays, but her weekends are for exploring and content creation.

Anthonia admits that some days life as an influencer can be really hard, and she just wants to give up her brand. “When I start feeling that way, I make sure I take a break because most of the time when you feel that way, it’s because you’re burnt out. While on break, I make sure I read books, listen to inspiring podcasts and watch my favourite creatives on YouTube for some inspiration.”

We were interested in knowing what Anthoonia considers the best and worst thing about being an Influencer.

“The best for me is having an online family that supports me and wants me to win. My Thonia Bankz family is so supportive, positive and even when I take breaks; I get so many emails checking up on me and asking when I’ll be back. I haven’t met a lot of them, but the love is so real.

The worst is random people that are not even your followers expect you to be perfect, and to be picture perfect every time. Influencers are humans, and we are not perfect. We have our good days, and not-so-good days and we will also make mistakes too.”

Before letting her go, we asked Thonia Bankz to share some advice for potential influencers going into her niche.

“First off, make sure you are truly passionate about being an influencer because if you start for the wrong reasons, you’ll be disappointed. 

Also, be yourself and don’t try to be someone else. Be very patient, honest with your audience and consistency is very important. 

Keep pushing even when it doesn’t look like it’s making sense, because trust me someone is watching, and your big break will come.”

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