Keep Your Day Job – The Case for Workfluencers
Since 2008, I’ve been a workfluencer. What’s a workfluencer, you may ask? A term for individuals whose chosen to maintain a traditional 9-5 day job AND be a so called “influencer” (or a side hustle, if you will).
Search the Internet, and you’ll stumble on countless blog posts and articles on how to become a full-time influencer and make money. Moreover, there’s often a perception among brands, media, and even consumers that the best and most successful influencers must do it full-time. Great. Fantastic. But what about the flip side of the coin?
I’ve seen very few articles speak to the challenges 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 day job.
If anything, I sincerely hope this post encourages Creators/influencers, especially those starting out in the industry, to evaluate all options before diving into going full-time. Moreover, I encourage brands to reposition workfluencers in their minds (and budgets) as they cast for campaigns.
The Rise of Quitters
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. Amazing! 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 and “influencing,” too? I sure hope so.
The Case for Workfluencers
Recently, Business of Fashion posted an article about why brands are turning to hiring influencers with traditional 9-to-5 jobs. Sadly, there’s a paywall on the BoF article (gah, sorry!).
But here’s the juice – brands are finally noticing the value of hiring workfluencers. The article goes on to explain they are seeing workfluencers have extremely influential audiences, more discerning with paid partnerships, and deliver a strong ROI.
Did tears well up in my eyes after reading the headline and insights? Definitely. 🙂 For years, it’s been disheartening to know that workfluencers aren’t even criteria or considerations for brands.
In fact, “workfluencer” isn’t even a box that can be checked on influencer platforms. Parent or non-parent? Married or single? Pet owner or non-pet owner? Gender, location, age, ethnicity, and even sometimes clothing sizes… all boxes to check.
“Do you have a day job?” Never an option.
To go one step further, it’s not even a category on social media platforms. Instagram offers “gamer, photographer, public figure, blogger, digital creator, video creator, and even grocery store” as category options for profiles. Workfluencer? Definitely not.
If data shows workfluencers have insane value for brands, why isn’t it a category, consideration, or criteria for campaigns?
Why Brands Should Hire Workfluencers
In my humble opinion, workfluencers should be a major consideration. I’m biased, of course. 🙂 Thankfully, companies (and their partner influencer agencies), like Ann Taylor, J.Crew, United, Mark & Graham, Tory Burch, EVEREVE, and M.M LaFleur, are VERY woke to the value of workfluencers.
I’m very thankful for that fact! The team at Sail to Sable especially gets it.
Also, I want to be clear – in no way, shape, or form am I downplaying the value in full-time influencers. Creators/influencers are jobs/careers in and of themselves.
After all, my 9-5 (or should I say 5-9), focuses on influencer marketing! Trust me, I see how the industry has flourished and that it’s not only possible, but very much a reality, that influencers can do things full-time (and do them extremely well). Moreover, working with full-time influencers also has great value. Some of my best and closest friends in the industry are doing it full-time (and should be!).
I’m simply stating the fact that workfluencers offer a different type of storytelling and perspective that should be considered.
Why I Haven’t Quit My Day Job
For the past nearly 20 years, I’ve worked full-time in integrated communications (public relations, influencer marketing, and social media). Currently, I’m the executive vice president of an integrated communications agency driving new business for three offices, and leading our agency’s top accounts, including airlines, hotels, resorts, destinations, consumer, lifestyle, beauty, real estate, design and fashion brands. It’s amazing! 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?
The Benefits of Blogging and Keeping Your Full-Time Job
Reason #1: Stability
Blogging and the influencer industry is not easy and challenging to keep stable. Beyond the lack of a set salary, blogging and influencer campaigns come and go, payments from brands take much longer than expected, and ads and affiliate sales can be all over the place.
A full-time work position elsewhere brings a certain sanity and solace that a steady paycheck is coming every month.
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.
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.
From a 401k to dental and health insurance, short-term disability coverage and paid 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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!”
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 – both for you AND your brand partners. For now, I plan to stay the course, and if it’s the right fit – I hope you will too.
In closing, what are your thoughts about blogging and maintaining a job full-time?