Caitlin Covington tells us what happens after you become a viral meme

When Caitlin Covington first got tagged in the “Christian Girl Autumn” meme in November of 2019, she immediately recognized the picture. It was a photo of her and a friend from 2013. A stranger had just tweeted it out with a joke, and it had gone viral.

“Honestly, I just laughed it off,” Covington told In The Know. “The memes that were circulating were really old photos and I can look back at those myself and laugh.”

The Tweet reached tens of thousands of people and spawned reiterations and copycats that Covington says she’s still tagged in today.

“Truly though, I am very basic when it comes to fall,” she said.

In terms of the aftermath of becoming a viral meme, Covington is lucky. A lot of people have been caught off guard after they found out they’ve turned into a meme and now have that legacy follow them, out of their control.

But Covington had already been curating a name for herself online for years and had grown thick skin against internet comments at that point, so she could see the meme for the joke that it was.

“I’ve been doing this since 2011 and I’ve definitely had my fair share of trolls throughout the years and I think, honestly, it prepared me for the meme,” Covington explained.

Covington started blogging when she was a junior in college as a way to beef up her resume for post-grad job applications. She wanted to work in the magazine industry and thought blogging would be the perfect platform to showcase her writing, photography and creativity all in one place.

After working in public relations for a year and running the blog on the side, Covington decided to make the jump to being a full-time influencer. At the time, Instagram barely existed — personal online essays and Tumblr were having a boom at the time, but hardly anyone was building a lifestyle brand.

“It was all so new and it was such a risk,” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘Am I going to be able to pay my bills this month?'”

Covington said that she hasn’t been recognized in real life for the meme (yet), but the occasional visitor to her Instagram page will put the pieces together. She still doesn’t mind the meme notoriety, but an aspect that’s hard to grapple with is the idea that a lot of people tend to forget that internet personas are real people.

“I do love fall, I do love getting dressed up, but there’s a whole lot more to me than that and I have a lot of different layers,” she said. “I’ve had some really hard life experiences.”

She added that she also thinks this way when it comes to people belittling her career.

“I put in [close] to 80 hours a week [and] I have two full-time employees,” Covington explained. “It takes so much time, planning, strategy, marketing that goes into it — it’s way more than just taking a pretty picture.”

Now that the influencer industry is at such a peak, Covington also wanted aspiring influencers to know that this is hard work and they should be willing to stick it out for years before seeing any success.

“I haven’t really had a vacation in maybe nine years,” she added. “Dedication and hard work really do pay off.”

Of course, we had to ask how the literal face of fall is celebrating her favorite season amid the pandemic.

“I’ve baked like five or six pumpkin breads already, I’ve had quite a few Pumpkin Spiced Lattes [and] my husband and I love scary movies so we’ve been watching all the Halloween movies,” Covington said.

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