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Inside Influence: One On One With Courtney Gardner

I spoke to fitness model Courtney Gardner about her path to becoming an influencer and her best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to go behind the brand. First things first, though, what is something about you that the many people who follow you don’t know?

Courtney: I think a lot of people who follow me don’t know that I have a full time corporate career, and that even though I live in LA now, I grew up on a farm in Oregon!

Adam: How did you become an “influencer”? What is the inside story?

Courtney: Honestly, it happened quite organically. I started using my personal Instagram as an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings around fitness and that ballooned into a series of opportunities and growth.

Adam: ​What advice do you have for those interested in working with influencers? ​How do you do decide who to work with?

Courtney: My advice to people who want to work with influencers would be to look for people who are in line with your message and brand. And pay attention to engagement.

A while back I made a decision to only work with a select few people and brands. I want to work with brands that I wholeheartedly believe in. I want their mission statement to align closely to mine and want to feel proud to rep them and vice versa.

Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in becoming influencers?

Courtney: The best piece of advice I can give is to be authentic to yourself. I even have a hard time with this at times. It is easy to try replicate what you see other people doing, but what is most important – and what will make you successful long term – is to stay authentic.

Adam What has being an influencer taught you about branding and marketing?

Courtney: Consistency is key. I find that the more consistent I am with the look, feel, timing and messaging behind my content, the quicker I grow. Does that mean I’m always good at it? No! But I try to be.

Adam: ​What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Courtney: One of my biggest hobbies is photography. I actually went to Boston University and graduated with a (Photo) Journalism Degree. I think that training and “eye” has allowed me to be successful in the visual world of social media. My other hobby would be lifting and working out. I can say it’s my hobby because it is not my main source of income. Bodybuilding and fitness competitions have taught me a lot about my mental and emotional capacities. So much of the sport is mental and requires a tremendous amount of discipline. I believe the self-confidence I was able to build by making it through a 14-16 week prep has seeped into many aspects of my life and has really shaped my view of myself.

Adam: ​Who have been the biggest influences in your life and how do you pay it forward?

Courtney: This is a deep question! There are several people who have been big influences in my life. My immediate family: my mom, dad and brother Kyle have always been so incredibly supportive of everything I do, no matter what it is. So many of my closest friends – Rach, Coll, Krista, Chels, Brianna, Anna, Tash – influence me on a daily basis and have helpful formed the woman I am today. They believe in me and push me to be my best self. They are real life examples of bad ass women. They each have their own super power and they remind me that I have my own on the days I don’t feel like I do.

From a fitness perspective my biggest influence has always been Paige Hathaway. A few years ago I got a rare opportunity to work out with her one on one. Back then I think I may have had about a thousand Instagram followers. It was during our workout together I told her about my personal journey and my goals. She told me that she thought I’d be a perfect fit for Bodybuilding.com’s Spokesmodel Search. Her belief in me gave me the confidence I needed to apply. Fast forward, I made the finals and was lucky enough to get a contract with them.

Today, I try to show people the same love and support my family has always provided me. I try to be as kind and motivated as all of my badass friends, and I try to pay it forward the way Paige did for me. Whenever I speak to other people who have big dreams, I listen and ask questions, but most importantly, I tell them they can accomplish anything they put their mind – and heart – to!

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