Many of us are on social media these days, liking and sharing all sorts of content.
But for some, the online world is an entire way of life.
Lainey and Lex Griffin live with their two dogs Bailey and Roxy in a large house in Cound, near Shrewsbury.
Between them they have more than 500,000 followers on Instagram and nearly the same number on YouTube – making social media a full-time career.
“People seem to think because you’ve got so many followers that you’re famous or some kind of a celebrity, but you’re still a normal person,” says Lainey.
Before embarking on her social media career Lainey worked in Ireland as a medical scientist ensuring blood transfusions between donors and patients were compatible.
After meeting Lex, 37, five years ago and moving to the UK the couple embarked on an online coaching project, before launching their own YouTube and Instagram channels.
The couple both record a lot of their personal life to give their followers an insight into who they are.
Lainey and Lex run fitness and healthy living accounts under the names Lainey Bopster and Lex Fitness. Even the two dogs have an account.
“I prefer YouTube,” says 36-year-old Lainey. “That’s because I think things can get lost in translation on Instagram because you just write a little piece and people read it how they want to read it.
“Whereas on YouTube you say how you feel and people feel the emotion as well – that said I do have bigger following on Instagram.
“What I like to do, and think I do, is help people. I have always been motivated towards helping people and that was my main goal.
“It’s got to the point where accounts that have millions of followers are all showing their best pictures. It makes their life seem perfect and it makes a normal person feel bad about themselves.
“If I make people feel bad about themselves then there’s a button that says unfollow, you don’t need to follow accounts that make you feel bad.”
Lainey films one video a week, spending the rest of her time editing, and accepts that being so intimate will inevitably mean a certain loss of privacy.
Lex has employed a videographer to ensure he is not always having to film what is happening in the couple’s day-to-day lives.
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“Before, Lex was constantly trying to create content and it was quite invasive,” Lainey adds. “I would be like ‘I really don’t want you to film this today’. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to pay a videographer.
“So for a while it was an invasion on our life. We even recorded our wedding, and our proposal. But it is part of our life. It’s like the Kardashians saying ‘I don’t want the camera in my face’, but then the next second they’re like ‘record me I’m wearing a lovely outfit’.”
The couple still having to make sure they maintain a certain level of posting.
“We can’t just say at 9pm that’s it, or at 6pm we’ll turn off our phones. But we do have certain times when we upload photos. That’s part of our day and if you don’t upload consistently then people lose interest and move on to the next thing,” Lainey adds.
“We do have a normal life. Lex has his Xbox and motorbikes and I will go for coffee with friends in town.
“We take down time like anyone else. On a Saturday we will say let’s go into town for breakfast – however then we will think it’s a good opportunity to take photos, so even when we are having downtime we are in a way working on things like Instagram stories. We don’t really get time off. People want to be part of things.”
If they do take a break from social media for a day they find it has ramifications in the following days, and that posts will perform worse, getting fewer impressions and interactions – so they have to be disciplined every day.
Lainey’s day will start with having a coffee and then spending time checking and replying to comments on her various channels.
“I don’t have notifications on my phone as it would be like beep, beep, beep,” she says. “People probably think it’s a fairly luxurious life because they only really see a snippet. We don’t record ourselves editing videos, making thumbnails and answering emails, because that’s not interesting. It’s like a highlight reel of our life.”
A few months ago Lainey suffered a miscarriage – and after deliberating decided to share the news with her followers.
“I didn’t know whether I wanted to talk about that. But to my followers they see me as a friend. We aren’t actors, this is us and we are who we portray,” she says.
“When I fell pregnant I was planning on YouTube-ing it and showing people about fitness and pregnancy. Big changes like that we would incorporate into our videos.
“For me it was upsetting to share it but at the same time it got it off my chest and stopped people asking questions which are quite personal.”
The couple moved to Shropshire last year – an odd move for people who rely on fast broadband.
“This was the perfect house for us, it’s light and airy and actually has good wifi,” she said. “Shropshire is notorious for bad broadband, but I grew up outside a town surrounded by fields, cows and sheep.
“We had the two dogs and we like having the countryside near us. This is more cosmopolitan than we’re used to as we are actually quite close to Shrewsbury.”
But living away from her family does have its downsides.
“When I make my videos and put up posts I don’t think about people I know reading or watching. I’ll get a message from my mother-in-law saying ‘you look lovely in that underwear’, I forget sometimes,” she laughs.
“I get to do what I love every day. I do wonder what it would be like to go back and work in a regular job, and I know I would prefer this.”