How to Become an Influencer and Make Money

The Case for the Workfluencer
How to Become an Influencer

Now that I have your attention, let me share my best advice. Don’t quit your day job. While today’s blog title might have been a bit of click bait, it’s an extremely important topic in this era of influencer. How to become an influencer while thriving at your 9 to 5 job.

To Go Full-Time or Not?

Search the Internet, and you’ll stumble on countless posts on how to become an influencer and make money. Great. Fantastic. But what about the flip side of the coin?

I’ve seen very few posts speak to the challenges and hardships of turning “influencing” and blogging into full-time jobs. Furthermore, it’s even more rare to find posts talking about the value of maintaining a stable, 9-to-5.

A few years ago, a popular influencer company started doing a series called “Quitters.” The series hailed publishers who quit their jobs to follow their blogging dreams. Again, amazing! Good for them! However, what about the rest of us who can’t, won’t, shouldn’t or simply don’t want to quit our day jobs?

Do you need to be hailed as a “quitter” to be deemed successful in this industry? What about us “keepers” of full-time employment? Is there a place for us in blogging, too? I sure hope so.

Jenn Lake Job Advice
Photo by: Cecilia Austin

Let me clear, and don’t let HBO Max’s “Fake Famous” documentary teach you differently. There is no such thing as an easy cash grab as an influencer.

Remember the bestselling book turned movie, Eat, Pray Love? Before deciding whether or not to be a full-time blogger or creator, I believe the journey should be Build, Grow, Evolve. Oh, and sacrifice. A lot of sacrifice.

Being a blogger and influencer is not a “get rich quick” scheme.

How to Become an Influencer

Today, I want to give you all of the reasons why you shouldn’t quit your day job. Furthermore, I believe there’s a strong case for “workfluencer” – a new term for those individuals who choose to have a full-time job AND be a so-called influencer.

I’m not alone. Many bloggers face this conundrum at some point during their digital journey. However, social media has this strange way of making it seem like creators are catapulted to celebrity-like stardom overnight. It makes people think, “I can easily do that, too!”

Why I Haven’t Quit My Day Job

For the past 17+ years, I’ve worked full-time in public relations. Currently, I’m the senior vice president of a PR agency, and I truly love what I do! Above all, I’m truly wired to work in the industry, and I wake up every day excited to do what I do.

From 2008-2010, I had a bridal blog called Third Coast Bride. It was my first venture into blogging, and I learned a LOT about the pro’s and con’s of managing a site and full-time job.

In 2014, I started dabbling with the idea of launching a fashion-focused blog. It took more than a year to plan the site, and Style Charade was born! Now, more than 13 years as a “workfluencer,” I’ve never felt pressure to become a full-time blogger. Why?

Jennifer Lake M.M.LaFleur Chicago
Photo by: Aesthetiica Photography

The Benefits of Blogging and Keeping Your Full-Time Job

Reason #1: Stability

Blogging is not easy nor stable. Beyond the lack of a set salary, blogging campaigns come and go, payments from typically brands take much longer than expected, and ads and affiliate sales can be all over the place. Just look at the pandemic. Many brands pulled back their marketing budgets to allocate funds elsewhere (like saving their in-house teams).

A full-time work position elsewhere brings a certain sanity and solace that a steady paycheck is coming every month.

#2: Accountability

Every day, I’m accountable to my boss, our clients, and my colleagues. There’s something invaluable about working for something outside of yourself. Often, in blogging and the influencer industry, the main focus is publishing and promoting personal content.

A full-time job gives you a reason and outright expectation to focus on others. Frankly, that’s made me a better person, and it’s kept me extremely grounded.

#3: Time Management

One of the biggest benefits of being a “workfluencer” is mastering the art of time management. In blogging, you can set your own pace for content creation and posts. At a full-time job, you have no choice but deliver, deliver, deliver.

When you’re balancing both blogging and working full-time? Orderliness is an all-out Olympic sport. If you choose this path forward, you’ll become amazing at prioritizing projects, multitasking, and striking a thoughtful work/life balance. I’ve found Teux-Deux to be extremely helpful with organizing professional, blog publishing and personal to-do lists.

#4: Reporting

My full-time job continues to teach me how to properly report my successes. Moreover, I’m constantly learning about first-to-market tools to help track analytics. The ability to evaluate insights has made me a stronger and more effective worker/blogger. Plus, I’m able to report on both qualitative and quantitative metrics in a unique, thoughtful way. Ultimately, my reporting style gives me a major competitive advantage with my blog partners and in life. Plus, the overall professional development you encounter at a full-time job are applicable in so many other areas.

#5: Managing a Team

One of the hardest aspects of my job is being a manager. Managing people is tough, and I’m definitely not perfect at it! More than 15 years later, I still feel like I’m trying to find ways to be a better mentor and leader for our company. Managing a team has given me insight into how to work better with others – from brands to other bloggers.

#6: Benefits

From a 401k to dental and health insurance, short-term disability coverage and PTO days, these are a few of the countless reasons I’m thankful to have a full-time job. Heck, my cell phone is paid for by the company along with a matching retirement program.

Best President's Day Sales

The Rise of the Full-Time Influencer

Listen, I fully support individuals who have chosen to finally make the leap to be a full-time creator. Being a full-time blogger and/or creator is an incredible accomplishment. Moreover, a large group of my friends in the industry are thriving while putting their full focus on blogging and content creation. In short, it’s absolutely possible to do so. However, like any business, you need to show proof of concept.

Best Advice from Full-Time Bloggers

Below, six full-time fashion blogger friends share about their journeys to-date. Furthermore, they offer advice for anyone thinking about making the move to full time blogging:

Blair Eadie Atlantic-Pacific

Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific

“It is critical to make sure your business is diversified enough before making the leap to full time. I had several revenue streams in place prior to becoming a full time blogger, including paid blog partnerships, paid social media partnerships, affiliate commissions, and product collaborations. With the space in constant change, and more crowded than ever, if you are heavily reliant on one revenue channel, it can be a major risk to your business.

I have also found those who have been most successful in making the leap to a full time career have not needed to take on many more sponsored posts in order to make the leap. If in order to go full time you’ll need to double the amount of partnerships you are currently executing, you most likely are not ready. The transition should be more seamless and organic to your readers. You shouldn’t ever let them down to pay your bills.”

Blake Gifford Signed Blake
Photo Credit: Signed Blake

Blake Gifford of Signed Blake

“My advice to anyone considering a career as a full-time influencer would be to take your time and build as strong and engaged a community as possible before taking the leap. The goal isn’t just to have a large following, but rather to provide value to the audience you already have. A strong community is your strongest asset when pitching yourself to brands and ultimately leads to better paid opportunities. It’s also important not to try to generate income by bombarding your audience with information that isn’t of value to them–like a gratuitous number of affiliate links to products you don’t actually own or genuinely recommend. They will see through it and you’ll lose their trust. Influencers who aren’t trustworthy don’t last very long.”

Grace Atwood

Grace Atwood of The Stripe

“A big thing to consider is if you’re financially ready. I saved up about 6 months living expenses before I went full time with my blog. Also, I had only one sponsored post my first month as a full time blogger. I was terrified that I had made the wrong decision.

Running a successful blog is expensive and it only gets more expensive as you grow. When I add up site development + design fees, hosting, photography, consultants I pay, and so on and so forth, I spend a few thousand dollars a month, just on expenses. Also, I had totally overlooked was health insurance! So on paper when you add up your affiliate revenue and paid partnerships, it may look like a pretty good salary. The reality is you have to look at profit (and then cut that number in half for taxes).

I personally felt ready to go full time when my annual blog revenue was well over 2x my salary AND I had that savings. I was 33 years old at the time – a huge part of my identity was wrapped up in my career and my accomplishments at those jobs.

Plus, I had a director title, was making great money, and had a 12 year career in marketing + social media and did not want to let that go. Walking away from that felt scary. I had reached a point where I was so burnt out that I wasn’t doing anything well anymore (blogging or my day job). So if you CAN do both and stay sane, honestly? DO IT. You have the best of both worlds.

To be successful as a full time blogger you have to treat it like a 9 to 5. I am at my desk the same hours as my friends with traditional jobs.”

Monica Awe Etuk
Photo Credit: Awed by Monica

Monica Awe-Etuk Oluwafunmilayo of Awed by Monica

“To the outside world, blogging looks like a fun, glamorous job. But to all those who are successful in the space, they know that it takes a lot of hard work, consistency, and a unique personality. Before you quit your day job I would highly recommend that you make sure that you are ready to put in the work, because it’s a lot. Also keep in mind that like any business nothing is guaranteed, hence you have to have a solid plan to ensure you run a successful blogging business.

I have been blogging for 8 years, and 4 years before I left my day job. Furthermore, I had saved up enough money to cover my expenses for at least three months without earning any income. I took a leap of faith and was extremely terrified not knowing. Even though I have different streams of income as a blogger(affiliate links, brand partnerships, google ads), collaborations are never guaranteed. Hence before you make the move of quitting your full-time job, make sure you have a solid reputation, content to serve as your resume, and backup income to cover slow months (after determining how much it will cost you to run your business).”

Liz Adams Hello Adams Family
Photo Credit: Hello Adams Family

Liz Adams of Hello Adams Family

“It was a rude awakening when I left my corporate job to work on my blog full time. No insurance, no 401k, no security – little did I know all of the uncertainty that would come from doing my own thing! Is there ever a right time to follow your dreams? No. But I think it is important to realize that there is lots of risk behind the reward.

Mackenzie Horan
Photo Credit: Design Darling

Mackenzie Horan Beuttenmuller of Design Darling

“For me I decided to quit my job when my annual income from my blog well exceeded my salary at my day job. I was 22 and naive but also extremely driven and felt like I had very little to lose at that time in my life. Within a few months of quitting my day job, I launched an e-commerce site that I ran in tandem with my blog for the ensuing five years. In early 2017, I finally felt like the income from my blog alone was steady enough that it could become my sole source of income. I had been blogging for eight years at that point so it definitely wasn’t an overnight success story!”  

FINAL THOUGHTS

Lastly, will I ever start blogging full-time? In the wise words of Justin Bieber, “Never say never.” Workfluencing is not for the faint of heart, but I truly believe the balance is worth it. For now, I plan to stay the course, and I hope you will too.

In closing, what are your thoughts about blogging and maintaining a job full-time?

Leave a comment

View All 12 Comments

  1. J
    Jill wrote:

    I so appreciate your, and fellow bloggers, honesty on this topic. I work in digital marketing, so I have an understanding of how much work goes into being a blogger/influencer/content creator, but it definitely comes off as glamorous. Personally, I love that you have a full-time job in addition to your blog/IG. I connect with you because of your style and as a professional working woman.

    Published 3.8.21 · Leave a Reply
  2. J
    Jessica wrote:

    Such a great article! I especially love the perspective from both views, why to keep your day job and what to know if you want to call it. A post with tips and advice on how to manage your blog and day job would be so good too! Nights and weekends on blog, vacations around partnerships , how to make sure ALL your personal time isn’t spent on your 2nd job…

    Published 3.8.21 · Leave a Reply
    • J

      Thanks lady! I love your suggestions and hope to create more content around the topic in the future!

      Published 3.12.21 · Leave a Reply
  3. A
    Alison wrote:

    Thank you sooo so much for this totally honest breakdown of such a huge decision! I’ve been back and forth in this debate with myself for the last couple years now (I currently work in Marketing and Content Strategy), and I’m very comfortable where I am, but that glitzy shine of the full-fluencer life is so hard to dismiss sometimes! Sticking to my two-lane road for now. Thank you!
    – Alison, Eclectic à la Mode

    Published 3.11.21 · Leave a Reply
    • J

      Thanks for your sweet comment! I’m thrilled you found the post to be helpful!

      Published 3.12.21 · Leave a Reply
  4. W
    Wendy wrote:

    Bloggers who maintain a full time career outside of blogging are often the most interesting and have a perspective to which more readers can relate. As a single, working woman, I don’t care to read about bloggers who swan about claiming they are so busy and then their day is get nails done, go to lunch, go to target etc- all things working women do outside of “work hours”.

    Published 3.13.21 · Leave a Reply
    • J

      Appreciate your feedback! I always worry young women only see the “glossy” sides of full-time bloggers and don’t realize the implications and challenges that come with it. There are SO many life/professional benefits of keeping a full-time job and blogging. I hope more people speak up about doing both. It’s really important!

      Published 3.13.21 · Leave a Reply
  5. T

    Jenn,

    Great blog post! I’ve always been a full-time blogger and influencer and have loved every minute of it.

    Yes, it takes a long time to build it up. I think a lot of that has to do with knowing your blog IS a full-time job and treating it as such. Workflow, time management, project management… it’s just like a corporate job and more.

    xoxo- Tanya
    http://www.tanyafoster.com

    Published 3.17.21 · Leave a Reply
  6. K

    LOVED this post, thank you so much for writing it! I’m nowhere near being able to go full-time with my blog, but as someone who juggles both a full-time job AND a blog (which feels like two full-times jobs on only one full-time salary), I’m so happy that you mentioned all the benefits of keeping the 9-5. I would love to get to the point where my income is 2x what it is now but only because I want my blog to pull in the same income as my full-time job. I love Jessica’s post suggestions, too; would love to know how you juggle both since you’re so successful at both blogging and your day job!

    Published 4.11.21 · Leave a Reply

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