One has to work extremely hard to stay relevant in the industry: Barkha Singh
Starting today, we bring you success stories of ‘influencers’ who have been acknowledged for their contributions and great work in the industry
What started as a chance encounter to the world of acting is now a full-time passion and profession for actress and influencer Barkha Singh, one of the very few names in the industry who is managing to juggle both aspects of her flourishing career perfectly. The winner of the Best Macro Influencer award at the inaugural E4M Influencer Awards, Singh says that she is doing what she is doing purely out of passion, and being recognised for the hard work that she, as an influencer, puts into the profession encourages her to better her craft.
“I am so thrilled to have won this award and so proud and happy for everyone else who has been recognised by the platform. I do this (working as an influencer) purely out of passion and it takes a lot of time and energy. Moments like this keep you going and these awards are very encouraging,” Singh quipped, who had started her career in social media content creation just three years ago.
Talking about her journey to becoming an actor and then an influencer, she shared, “Even as a kid, I loved being on stage and I used to participate in loads of cultural events at school. When I was around ten years old, I tagged along with a friend of mine to audition for a dishwashing bar’s commercial. I waited there with him for hours and when it was finally my turn to audition, I was told that I was too young for the role. However, my mother told the casting team present there that it would be very disheartening and demotivating for me to go back without performing and she somehow managed to persuade them to give me a chance. And I was so bad at it, I couldn’t say even one line correctly. Yet, I managed to get that ad film and from there on I kept working in commercials.”
The ad was for Odopic dishwashing bars and after that Singh worked with a number of big national and regional brands including Pothys, Cadbury, Clinic Plus, Stayfree, etc.
Singh also played the role of young Kareena Kapoor in the Bollywood film Mujhse Dosti Karoge, released in 2002. However, acting remained a hobby that she followed while focussing on her studies. But something struck her after she graduated from college that she decided to become an actress.
“I was placed at Google Hyderabad after graduation and at the same time, I got selected for a part in a TV show that I had auditioned for. And I picked acting,” Singh shared.
Singh worked in several Hindi GEC shows including ‘Yeh Hai Aashiqui’, ‘MTV Fanaah’, and ‘Bhagyalaxmi’. However, she was not feeling very content with the sort of work she was doing in the space. “I could not relate with the stories and the roles I was working on. And at that time, digital content too was really not a big thing. Just a few people like CarryMinati, Prajakta Koli, and Sejal Kumar were creating content. But I wanted to try something like that. So, one fine day I decided to call it quits and informed the production house that I was working for. They very generously killed my character on the show (laughs).”
But Singh had to sit at home without any work for six-seven months after that. “I was 22-23, trying to start my career from scratch again. And it was not easy at all. Luckily, I got the MTV show ‘Girls on Top’ after that and the content was very different from the shows I had been doing earlier. From there, I realised my social media following also took a leap. I was getting about 15-30 thousand new followers on Instagram each day. That’s when I finally got the motivation to try digital content creation.”
In 2018, Singh started her YouTube channel where she vlogged her travels. “I loved traveling, so I started self-producing my vlogs. In 2019, I traveled to 10 countries. I was finally loving what I was doing. And all this happened simultaneously with my acting career.”
She also worked extensively on her Instagram profile to make the feed look refreshing and content relatable. “What worked for me in the digital world is that I kept it real and refreshing,” she happily notes.
Soon after, brands started approaching her to create content for them. “Initially, when I had started as a digital content creator, I was getting requests from brands like Zomato or Vodafone, once a month. There weren’t many brands that were doing influencer marketing. But in the last two years, it spiked up immensely. In fact, I had to realign my profiles to be more brand-friendly. My focus was to keep it simple, candid, positive, and feel good.”
Since then, she has worked with a number of brands as an influencer, including the likes of Budweiser, Taj Hotels, Alexa, Maybelline, Cult.fit, and many others.
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On being asked how she chooses the brands she wants to work with, Singh replies, “I only work with brands that I relate to. I will never endorse any products like fairness creams or slimming products. Another thing that I have realised with experience is that it is very important for both the parties (brands and influencers) to be good and fair with each other. They need to be happy and creatively satisfied. So, I do a lot of background research on the brands and the kind of commercials they have been doing before saying yes to any deal. You also need to ask the brand upfront what kind of content they will be requiring; a brief that gives you the basic idea of what kind of work you will be doing. If any of these things don’t fit well with me or the brand, I won’t take that work.”
Singh manages all the brand work with the acting assignments she regularly keeps working on. “I have always been an actor and as I said, being an influencer came out of pure passion. So, I love doing both together. That also means I tend to have very packed schedules and I need to put in extra working hours on days I am shooting. But I love all of this so much that I enjoy this hustle. There is never a moment where I feel like choosing between the two.”
Another thing that has helped her manage her acting commitments and personal brand flawlessly, Singh feels, is her education. “It is very important to not just know how to work but also how to conduct yourself in a professional environment and understand the details of any business. I believe that a personal brand is nothing less than a startup and it needs the same kind of attention and work. Even a simple-looking thing like understanding the algorithms plays a very crucial role in your success in this industry. I am very lucky to have a background in business sales and advertising that I tend to understand these things. This has really helped me.”
Singh is really proud and happy about the body of work she has managed to do thus far and is quite excited about the next phase of growth in her career. “I feel that digital content creation and influencer marketing has become a very saturated market. So, you have to work extremely hard to stay relevant. But at the same time, there is so much room for growth in the space. There are so many brands looking to partner with influencers and the potential in the space is endless. All this partnered with new social media platforms and the kind of new features the existing ones keep coming with is creating a dynamic environment for us to work into. And I am so excited to be a part of this,” she concludes.
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