With over 20,000 followers on Instagram, The GR Guide, aka Sara Visser, easily earned her nickname.
Visser is a born and raised Grand Rapidian who jumped onto the Instagram platform very early on while living and working in Chicago and today operates a thriving account, @thegrguide, (and a blog) where she shares all of her favorite things about Grand Rapids with its subscribers. .
“I worked for a fashion startup in Chicago, and we were capitalizing on Instagram a lot at the time. It took me right into it. It was around the time Instagram was taking off, ”said Visser. “At that time, we would release our outfits every day, go to New York Fashion Week, really trying to shake things up.”
Visser also started his own blog focusing on Chicago restaurants, fashion, and other lifestyle topics. When she decided to return to Grand Rapids, she came up with the idea for The GR Guide.
“Talk about the growth and the fun things going on in the city,” she said. She first launched the blog aspect of the project, followed by the Instagram account. In a few months, the Instagram account is gaining followers.
Five years later, The GR Guide has become a go-to resource for many looking for the latest restaurants, retailers, and other fun content that Visser shares.
When she first opened her accounts, “influencing” wasn’t much of a job, but today companies scramble to recruit influencers into their marketing campaigns.
Visser said she had seen a slight increase in companies wishing to partner with her. Over the summer, she teamed up with Priority Health on a Savor the Summer series, for example. But she said she remains picky about who she decides to work with and that she focuses on preserving the integrity of her brand by staying authentic.
“There might be a misconception that it’s that easy or that it’s not a real job. It’s really, really hard work to do. You can’t just leave at 5:00 p.m. and be done with the day’s work.
“As an influencer or blogger, you get a lot of emails from people who want to work with you, and I really pick companies, whether local or national, that are best for me. It would be easy to say yes (to) anyone who contacts me, but I choose and try to be sincere in sharing things that I actually use in my everyday life, ”she explained. .
Visser said a lot of influencer growth has to do with the tools available. Instagram has gone from being a photo-sharing platform to including videos, live streams, and more.
“It’s different now with social media. I think you can tell a little more story with what you do in Instagram stories and create more videos and it’s cool to see which direction is going, and I think businesses find that useful, ”a- she declared. “I really think the video aspect and more interaction with people is going to be a big thing. It’s cool to see how Instagram Live allows you to interact with people one on one. If they ask you a question, you can answer it right away.
She said the important thing for her is to stay true to herself and while she is eager to try new things, she also wants to make sure that she sticks to what she does. best and that it does not get overwhelmed by all the new platforms and tools available.
She also enjoys the blogging aspect of her job and continues to tell stories that way, noting, “I always love bringing the story to the blog as well.” And with the shrinking of local media, social media influencers are becoming a more important part of the local community’s storytelling media.
Visser said she sees more and more local influencers or potential influencers, but she welcomes them and is happy to give advice to others.
“Really be yourself. I think each of us as individuals has different stories to tell, so even if there is another GR influencer, I could tell a story of a way to eat out and they could. tell it in a different way. I could take a picture of a dish and they could take a picture of a dish and they will look different, ”she said. “I think it’s cool to have different people in the community doing their own thing.”
Visser said it was exciting to see her Instagram grow and evolve over the past five years and she continues to see new opportunities as social media expands.
A typical day for her includes morning coffee with her husband before delving into emails from the comfort of her kitchen table, followed by an afternoon of creative work, which may include creating an article. blogging or other content or taking photos.
Visser said the biggest misconception about being an influencer is that it’s not a job. “There might be a misconception that it’s that easy or that it’s not a real job. It’s really, really hard work to do. You can’t just leave at 5:00 p.m. and be done with the day’s work. It’s waking up in the morning and going to bed at night, the continuous process of work, it might not always feel like working, but it is, but it’s also fun work. What I love most about what I do is being creative.
As she looks to the future, Visser plans to stay the course and continue to focus on putting the spotlight on Grand Rapids.
“I really try to focus a little more on the videos and that kind of storytelling, and it’s cool to see since when I started Instagram to see where it’s at today. produced and I’m excited about what can happen in the future, ”said Visser.
Sara Visser shares the accounts she likes to follow on Instagram:
This story can be found in the September / October 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To receive more stories like this in your mailbox, subscribe here.