In this blog post Adam Walker, The Male Stylist lays out some of the consequences of Brexit, and in particular a hard or no-deal Brexit, for our industry. It may be the most boring topic of all time but it does pose a risk to our industry and we need to discuss the many ways in which our businesses are under threat.
I encourage everyone in the community to read this, take the actions Adam suggests and to share widely. Let people in power know how this has impacted and will further impact your business online and when they inevitably knock on your door seeking election. Thank you to Adam for writing this article, you can find his full bio at the bottom of this post – Kat, Blogtacular Director
Over the past 3 years Brexit has been an over-present issue hanging over media, politics and consumers alike, with deep divisions and anger coupling any discussion about it. Indeed, many feel the debate has become exhausting and caused significant anxiety on a daily basis.
However, the perils of Brexit (and particularly “No Deal” Brexit) have been coming to light over the past 12-18 months, painting a grim picture for both consumers and businesses alike. Influencers could find themselves at the heart of these problems with skyrocketing business costs, reduced revenues and restricted access to platforms.
Yes, influencers have a lot to lose if Brexit hits in the next 2 months and below are just a few of the biggest ways they could see their industry impacted.
Slower Internet Speeds or Higher Costs of Service
Net Neutrality (i.e. the principle that states all internet sites be treated equally in terms of speed by internet service providers) is currently enshrined within EU law and means that regardless of your size, users have the same access to your website as they do to Amazon or Facebook.
However, if we leave these standards may no longer be maintained and, as a result, internet service providers could prioritise the speeds of larger websites who pay them more over smaller ones.
Don’t believe it’s true? In 2017 when Net Neutrality was repealed in the US, both Netflix and YouTube saw their speeds choked by ISPs who they had refused to pay more for priority access compared to other sites.
Pay More for Travel or Face Data Roaming Charges…Again
Travel influencer? Love those easy trips to Rome or Paris? Your ability to move freely within the EU without paying for visas is protected by the EU’s Freedom of Movement. If we leave this agreement you could find yourself in longer queues at passport control and having to pay to enter EU countries that would have been free to enter previously.
Furthermore, if you love posting on social media whilst travelling and enjoy the same free data allowances you get in the UK, be prepared to lose that too. In 2018 multiple phone networks came forward and stated that they may be reintroducing data roaming charges to UK citizens in EU countries post-Brexit, meaning you could face similar prices to before they were abolished by the EU in 2017.
Food is Going to Cost More…
If you’re a food blogger or simply just love your food, you could see your costs for both normal and exotic ingredients increase significantly. Reuters has already reported that there is a strong likelihood of food shortages across the UK, as well as price increase on the new tariff systems resulting in costs increasing by 20-40%.
Whereas currently food can be imported into the UK fthrough the EU without tariffs or border checks, the UK would now face both on the likes of dairy, meat, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as significant hits to the standards of quality required from food.
If you want the most gruesome example of this, Google “brexit chlorinated chicken” and you can see the kind of standards we could expect from trading partners outside of the EU.
Your Rates Are Likely To Go Up
Currently HMRC allows small businesses earning under £85k per year an exemption from charging VAT on their sales. However, post-Brexit HMRC has announced that there are plans to reduce this to £76.5k meaning many more small businesses will be forced to charge VAT.
The end result here is that the services provided by an influencer will cost more but the influencer themselves won’t see any profit increase. On top of this, influencers may have to reduce their rates to keep their costs competitive with smaller influencers, meaning their income could drop.
The Beauty Industry is Going to be Hit Hard
The beauty industry relies on imported goods from across the EU, relying on freedom of movement to keep costs low and reducing business overheads. As early as 2016, the beauty industry voiced concerns over how Brexit could hugely impact operating costs, access to goods and overall profits without freedom of movement of goods.
The knock-on effect here is businesses will be spending more on production and therefore have to cut elsewhere around the business, including from marketing budgets. The result being that influencer budgets are constricted or wiped out, meaning fewer opportunities and significantly lower budgets per influencer for the brands who can afford it.
On top of all of this, there have been concerns over the use of dangerous chemicals and ingredients as cheaper substitutes in cosmetics post-Brexit, including (but not limited to) Carcinogenic substances.
Your Hardware & Software is Going to Cost More
Almost no smartphones, cameras, computes or hosting companies are built or operate within the UK, most are brought into the UK on a tariff-free basis via the EU who negotiate standards and maintain competitive pricing between large tech corporations.
If Brexit happens we could see a rapid escalation in the prices of hardware and software influencers use, meaning you’ll be spending more of your revenue/profits on the tech you need to keep your content creation process as smooth as possible.
None of this Factors in a Weaker Pound
The cherry on top of this extraordinarily depressing sundae is that the pound is getting weaker by the day right now, with it currently (at the time of posting this article) being at a 34-year low.
If this continues (and all signs point to Brexit exacerbating this issue, not helping it) then the increased costs mentioned above will see a further hike as your money becomes less valuable abroad. Travel, food, products, hardware, all of it will get more expensive as your money gets weaker compared to the Euro and US dollar.
Summary: Higher Costs, Fewer Opportunities and Lower Income
The influencer industry is painfully vulnerable to the effects of Brexit and it has done very little to protect itself against any of the implications.It is a business that needs Freedom of Movement, it needs a strong currency and it needs the EU as a whole. Without it, the strain placed on many will be too much and could put them out of business in a fairly short amount of time.#
I’ve only mentioned how this can affect your business but Brexit threatens the supply of medicine (Insulin and Isotopes used in Radiotherapy have been highlighted as concerns for supply after Brexit) meaning people could die, EU citizens could be deported without reason and the NHS could be sold off to private companies meaning free healthcare will be eradicated. This is a remarkably dangerous time for all but the most wealthy and we need to be aware of these dangers.
What can I do?
Use your democratic rights wisely.
- Sign and share petitions,
- Write to your MP every week, every day if you like saying you want to Revoke Article 50 or you want a good deal for the UK.
- Vote for Remain-focused parties who want to maintain the protections you have as a small business.
- Go on protests and marches
- Donate to pro-EU groups
- Read up on the news, it’s depressing but get informed
We have built this industry from the ground up and now it’s in jeopardy. Are you going to fight for it or are you going to let it slide away until it’s too late?
About the Author: Adam Walker is an ex-influencer at The Male Stylist who has spent the best part of 9 years working within digital marketing. He is currently Associate Director at ForwardPMX running multi-channel digital strategies for global fashion, beauty and travel brands.
Before this he was an economics journalist at The London Economic after studying the EU economy as part of his Business Management and International Finance degree in university.