From Hobby to Career
Turning your hobby into a career is the ultimate dream for many riders out there. Mira Müller-Steinmann got to make it her reality. On social media she takes us along in her life as a Grand Prix rider, sharing the ups and downs of her exciting journey. We were curious about her story, how she got started, the challenges she faced along the way, and what she’d do differently if she could go back in time. So, why not have a little chat with Mira and ask her? In this two-part series you’ll learn how Mira started her social media journey, how she manages it, and where it might take her.
Let’s start at the very beginning. When did you first start sharing your daily life at the stable on social media?
I think it was around 2013 when I started a Facebook page that served as a sort of diary for me. It was a place where I could share my experiences with Samba, my horse, and post pictures without bombarding my Facebook friends who weren’t interested in horse stuff (laughs). The page was initially just for myself and anyone who might be interested.
When did you realize that your social media presence had the potential to become a larger business?
I think it was around 2014-2015, when I had around 25,000 followers on Facebook. More and more companies started approaching me to test their products. At that time, it was still free of charge and I was just happy to receive some free products to test. All riders know how expensive the sport is, so it was really exciting to receive something for free. At some point, it became a part-time job for me. However, it wasn’t like I had to contemplate whether or not to turn this into a professional career. It just sort of naturally evolved into it. In 2016, I finished high school and began studying, so I wasn’t even thinking about a professional career at that point. I graduated from university in 2022, but I certainly knew a year or two before that being an influencer had become a viable option.
Did you have the goal of becoming an influencer when you started out?
I don’t think I really had my sights set on that back then. Today that’s the term, along with content creator. But back then it was more like “I do social media on the side”. I also have to say that it used to make me a little uncomfortable and I didn’t dare to be proud of it. That took a really long time, but I think that’s just me being me. But yeah, I just thought to myself: I’ll just give it a try and if it doesn’t work out, then other things will come up that open doors for me, especially since I was studying at the time. I never dropped out of my degree program like some others, or gave up another job for social media. I think that’s what ultimately helped me grow my following: I wasn’t really dependent on Instagram so I could be authentic through and through.
“I think that’s what ultimately helped me grow my following: I wasn’t really dependent on Instagram so I could be authentic through and through.”
Were there any negative comments or criticism from people around you about your job as an influencer?
Well, the older generation sometimes just didn’t get what I was doing or how it could be a real job. But besides that, not really. I think I was harder on myself than anyone else. But you know, this kind of work doesn’t come with a guarantee of stability. So it’s natural for people to be a bit more critical than with a traditional job.
You’ve been doing this for a while now. Are there certain things you used to post that you wouldn’t post nowadays? Stuff that makes you think, “What was I thinking?”
Oh, definitely! That’s why I made my Facebook page private (laughs). I was just a teenager at the time and how I phrased things then is not how I would do it now. It’s not anything too drastic, but there are things that I now consider not professional enough. For instance, neck ring riding was a popular trend back then. Nowadays, I find it quite dangerous, but in the past, I just said, “Well, me and my horse have a great connection, and that’s why it works so well.” That was just how I used to phrase things, without mentioning the potential risks. And it worked well for us, and it still does, but today I see it differently and would no longer ride in a field field with only a neck ring, for example. I think I have a more nuanced view on many things now.
Your good friend Josephin now acts as your manager. When did you realize you needed help managing your business?
Well, it wasn’t that I was overwhelmed at some point. It was more about how I could optimize my business and make it even better. It was around August 2021 that I started thinking about getting help and I was also approached by companies that offered management. When preparing for my bachelor thesis, I realized that having help would actually be really useful. I was getting too many requests that I couldn’t handle myself, and I was forced to ignore the less interesting ones, which was unprofessional. So it happened a bit by chance that Josephin started to take over things for me and she quickly became a huge help to my work. With her support, I can take on more jobs, and my business has become not only more professional but also more proftable. Josephin works about 20-30 hours a week for me and takes care of all office stuff, writes my to-do list, fills my calendar, and reminds me what invoices I need to write. She’s a real lifesaver.
Is your boyfriend also a victim of being dragged to the barn to take pictures or accompany you to shows, like many other partners in this sport? 😉
No, he’s not involved at all. My boyfriend is quite busy with his own life and career, and he travels a lot for work. So he doesn’t have much time to spare. But if he’s around the stables and there’s something he can help me with, he’s happy to lend a hand. However, he’s not regularly involved in the day-to-day operations of the stable or accompanying me to shows. Those are more exceptions rather than the norm.
You ride competitively up to Grand Prix level. What’s it like for you to ride in competitions these days, where so many people know you and certainly recognize you? Is there a difference compared to the past?
Well, I do feel some pressure from the public, because if things don’t go well, more people would know about it. So, it can be a bit stressful. But there’s always the possibility of not making a big announcement about where I’m going to compete. Like, if I’m riding a new horse at a show and I’m unsure, I don’t need to make that public. As I’ve become more experienced in the industry, I’ve learned the routines and how to handle things when they don’t go as planned, which has made it less stressful for me. And everyone has bad days sometimes, especially when dealing with horses, right? So there’s definitely more pressure and excitement than in the past, but even when things don’t go perfectly, I can manage it.
Do people recognize you at shows?
Yeah, definitely. Due to my content, my audience is generally a bit older, so things like meet-and-greets aren’t really as big of a deal for me. When you’re a teenager, I guess you’re more likely to be a devoted fan of something and want to take a bunch of pictures and ask questions. As an adult, you’re more focused on the content itself and don’t need to take a hundred pictures. However, I don’t really mind not being approached (laughs). It’s not that I don’t enjoy talking to people, but when I was younger, I never understood the idea of idolizing strangers and being a huge fan, and I don’t want to be that for others. It’s nice when people approach me and want to take a photo, but things like autographs are completely over the top in my opinion so I try to avoid that (laughs).
Thinking in the future, do you have any short or long term goals with your social media presence and reach?
Yeah, definitely! I think it makes sense to keep expanding and using my reach on social media. As for concrete plans, we don’t have anything set in stone yet. Maybe in the future we’ll want to start more businesses or projects, like the podcast “Stabletainment” which has really taken off and definitely benefits from my reach. It definitely makes sense to expand into several businesses, as everything changes so quickly nowadays and I will also change over time. One thing I’ll never want to do is become a so-called “mom blogger” (laughs). So it’s important to think long term about what options are out there that complement and blend into each other. Maybe starting our own label sometime, who knows? Some people create their own platforms with educational videos. There are a lot of options out there.
“It definitely makes sense to expand into several businesses, as everything changes so quickly nowadays and I will also change over time.“
… because you can’t do social media forever?
Well, you never know how social media will change in the future. Plus, the younger audience is the focus on these platforms and eventually, older people become less interesting. That’s why I think it makes sense to think about what you want to do long term, what your goals are, and what fits your own development. As for me, I envision a future where I work less and maybe don’t necessarily stand in front of the camera every day. And I want to plan for that now by creating opportunities that will support my future goals. It might not be for another 10 or 20 years, but it’s always wise to be prepared. This is just the nature of being self-employed in many industries.
Do you feel secure in your job right now?
I definitely feel confident about the next 5-10 years. Everything after that is hard to say. That’s why I’m already planning ahead and why it was important to me to finish my studies. Also, my riding skills are now in theory alsoopening up the option of being a professional rider. Training horses may not bring in the same income as social media, but it’s another way to support myself that makes sense. But being an influencer is definitely not a secure career, at least not in the long run. However, I have no doubt that my personal long-term career prospects are secure thanks to the reach and the different streams of income I have built.
Mira, thank you so much for the pleasant chat and the interesting insights you’ve shared with us! 😊
To follow Mira, check out @miraaams on Instagram.