So… what do you do for a living? I don’t think there’s a question I have dreaded more over the last few years because I don’t love the term influencer, and when I say content creator no one knows what the heck I am talking about. But the truth is, I do both. I influence others to do a project, buy a product, go to a place, ect. and a create content in the form of projects, some with brands, to showcase a technique, product, tool, or space.
I get a lot of questions that really have opened my eyes to how little most people know about the life of an influencer, especially a DIY influencer, so hopefully this helps educate you on how much goes into it and if this is a profession for you.
First off, there are SO MANY different types of “influencers.” I do not know what it is like to share fashion, and lifestyle and beauty or how to be a celebrity gamer. But I do know that DIY influencers are a special breed because we have double the amount of work once we add projects into the weekly schedule. I will try and be as transparent as I can with respect to my fellow DIY creators.
So here we go…
How many hours per week do you spend working on influencer stuff?
80-100 hours a week with only 20-30 of those hours actually working on the project itself & doesn’t include the hundreds of hours I have spent the last 2 summers creating online courses from scratch. This is just what it takes to run a DIY instagram & blog.
This is going to vary from week to week but on average here’s the breakdown.
- 30 hours a week on Instagram – responding to DM’s, comments, creating and posting stories and in feed, and engaging with other creators. Do I need to spend that much time responding to DM’s and comments? No. Some influencers have created limits for themselves. 30 minutes or 1 hour a day and then leave the rest unanswered. Others have hired assistants to respond to messages and comments. I have found that I create better content when I know what you need, and I find out what you need based on your messages. A lot of the time your messages are genuine DIY questions so I want to make sure I show up for you and help answer those. Do some fall through the cracks that I don’t see or get to? Definitely, but I find that if I am consistently showing up and answering your questions, you show up to watch, engage, and support my content. This is also why I am only active in IG stories 5 days a week, and take off Tuesday and Wednesday. If I did not take off 2 days a week this # would easily be 40+ hours a week just on instagram. Like I said above, could I ease the # of hours by not replying to messages, YES, but I think responding is an essential part of the gig.
- 5 hours a week editing photos, videos, and filming content, just for IG stories and reels and the occasional blog post.
- 20-30 hours a week working on a DIY project and filming.
- 8 hours a week administrative duties such as invoices, sending analytics, updating spreadsheets.
- 10-20 hours a week replying to emails, pitching brands, creating mood boards, ordering materials and supplies for upcoming projects, creating graphics for blog posts, course content, & marketing.
- 3 hours a week on zoom calls with potential brands.
- 4 hours a week creating blog posts, pinterest pins ect.
This. is. a FULL TIME gig. I have 1 assistant who helps me 30 hours a week, but even with my assistant this is still my schedule. Could I have a full-time assistant or multiple assistants to help cut my hours down, certainly, but that isn’t in the cards for me quite yet. But also, most of the time it doesn’t feel like work to me! I feel like I’m talking to my friends in DM’s, I love the time spent working on projects, as well as planning projects.
How did you get started?
January of 2019 I decided to show up in IG stories sharing the herringbone board and batten wall in my daughters room. I showed the process (very poorly), and a before and after in my feed. I started to comment and message other DIYers and created relationships with them. My first 600 followers were friends and family and a few of their friends. Once I made it to 1000 followers another DIY account at 9000 followers shared me and I grew 1000 followers in 24 hours. It was at that point I knew if I consistently showed up in stories (so people could get to know me), and kept doing cool projects (and photographed them well – remember, visual platform your photo and video quality matter), I could turn this into my full-time job and get paid doing something I love (projects and teaching people).
When did you quit as a nurse?
From January 2019 through December of 2019 I worked from home as a telephone triage nurse 20 hours a week, December 2019-May 2020 I cut my hours down to 10 hours a week, and was pushing hard to really build up my following. In May I felt like I had enough brand collaborations to cover my 10 hour a week paycheck and I resigned from my nurse job. It was a gradual transition. Most of my other DIY influencer friends have done the same with their work transitions.
How can you help your favorite influencers?
I get this question a lot. The best thing about this platform is it is FREE for you! I give dozens and dozens of hours each each week, and to you its FREE! How cool is that? Ways you can help.
LIKE EVERY POST. Its so easy to keep scrolling past, but the more that you like and comment and save and shareyour favorite people that is the signal to instagram to keep showing you this person! It also signals to instagram that this is a “good post” and to share it to more people! If a post doesn’t get likes or comments, it tells instagram its a “bad post” and then instagram hides it from everyone else.
Watch and engage in stories, polls, ect signals instagram that this is a “good story” and pushes it out to more people. If you consistently skip past stories that will eventually signal to instagram to not show you that persons stories anymore.
When did you first reach out to a brand for a sponsorship?
When I was around 3,000 followers my first sponsorship was a post in exchange for free paint. I felt like I had made it. Getting to 3,000 followers isn’t easy! It is a grind to get from 0-10,000 followers. That part took me 10 months. My first paid sponsorship was for $150 + product when I was around 18,000 followers (so basically I was in “debt” for the first 13 months because I was paying for cost of materials for every single project I tackled and shared). Can you reach out to brands sooner than that and get paid, yes. I just didn’t know how to ask for money in addition to product, now I do 🙂
90% of the brands that you see me working with I have reached out to them, love their product, have emailed back and forth for weeks, spent hours creating product lists, and mood boards of the space, well before you see the story of their product.
Do you get paid from every brand or accept free product as trade?
First off, there are plenty of things that I share in stories that I don’t get paid to share at all! I just think it would be helpful to you/you’d love it like I do! There are some brands who only offer their product and want a shoutout for it. I tend to not accept most of these because there becomes an expectation from the brand that you have to deliver XYZ and in a lot of cases that expectation isn’t worth it, and I would rather purchase the product and have zero expectations and share it (or not).
If you are serious about getting into this, read through every contract. Don’t give your images away for free! I have been burned by a few companies who have used my pictures in ads, newspapers, commericals, ect and give ZERO credit to me and are generating sales for their company and I was never compensated at all.
How do you Start/Grow a following?
1- find your niche
2- provide VALUE to others (entertain, empower, educate)
3- take good pictures and video, remember it’s a visual platform
4- be YOU. This is your ticket! The market isn’t over saturated. You aren’t too late. You are the one and only you and THAT is your advantage.
5- be willing to put in the time!
There’s lots of different ways to grow and this changes constantly. Back in the day you could post a picture and grow 5-10k new followers. Pictures just don’t cut it right now with a feed full of reels. So if you are starting now, you need to jump on the reels trend as you’ll get the biggest reach (# of eyeballs) on your projects which will equate to more followers, but honestly, most important is to grow at a steady pace and create a community that rallies behind you!
How do you create a community? You also need to show up consistently in stories. Each day you need to be doing these 3 things, entertaining, empowering, or educating. You are an escape for someone else’s day! Be that for them, CONSISTENTLY! They are coming to you for one or all of those three things. The last way to grow is to network with similar sized, same niche accounts! creating relationships and sharing each other in an organic way helps everyone! Your audience finds another account they can love and follow, you and your friend grow which opens up more opportunities to turn this from a hobby into a paid job.
Why do you only do weekends?
Like I mentioned above, this is a full-time gig, and I am also a full-time mom of 3 kids ages 4-8 with a husband that has 2 full-time jobs. We are busy! I have to set limits for myself on how quickly I do projects, how much I share, and how often I am on. During the week I needed days to run errands, clean my messy house, and give attention to my kids and their needs, and also to decompress and watch some Grey’s Anatomy ;). There’s a lot of other DIY influencers who take off on the weekends. I tried that method, but our in week family schedule was too chaotic I felt like I wasn’t able to show up for IG and wasn’t showing up for my family well.
I don’t want this to sounds like I do it all and am a super human because I am far from that. I have just prioritized different things in my day to make time for what needs to get done, and then let that list overflow into the next day. Most days that means I make spaghetti or something extremely simple for dinner, and let’s not even talk about the pile of laundry that is sky high. I do not volunteer in my kids classes or spend a lot of time with friends on lunch dates or shopping trips.
Cons to working with brands
Cons – a lot of brands require preapproval of content before you can post it. This would be easy if I was sharing makeup or clothes… but with DIY projects that means I have to film, and build the entire project weeks ahead of time to get it approved before I can share it with you on Instagram. I’ve worked with some great brands that do not require approval and allow for full creative control and I’ve worked with others that take 3 months to approve content with multiple edits and revisions and suck all the creativity and fun out of the project. I wont be working with those brands again in the future.
How do you do your write-offs and taxes?
Insert gif of “do you even know what a write-off is?” lol. I highly recommend consulting a CPA from the very beginning (even when you aren’t making money) to discuss how to structure your business. Take it seriously, as a business. Keep your receipts, get quickbooks and categorize your purchases, establish yourself legally as a business SOLE-PROP or jump straight into an LLC and open a business bank account. Because my husband has owned a pest control company and is his own real estate business we had this part figured out, but look for a good CPA who has clients who are influencers or bloggers.
What do you use to edit your videos and photos?
I actually only use my iPhone for everything. I’ve tried investing and learning how to use a nice camera, and it just makes what I do a lot more time consuming.
I use inshot to edit all of my videos straight from my phone. It also edits YouTube style videos great for only $10 or $15 a year I find it way easier to use than iMovie or Final Cut Pro.
For photos I edit everything in Lightroom. I don’t have presets, but I do edit most images in the same fashion. Top photo recommendations. Take the photo straight on so your vertical lines are straight. Edit your photo straight. Turn off your lights and use natural light for the photo.
How do you handle negative comments?
I first try and look at the negative comments as they aren’t trying to be rude, I’m just reading it in that tone. So I try and reply back as politely as possible. Depending on the level of negativity (if they are trying to rip me a new one) I just delete it before I even finish reading it. They are the 0.01% so why should I let them make me have a bad day?
Does the size of a project mean more money or more engagement?
There isn’t really a correlation to either! Reveals in general get better engagement than other types of posts and videos are currently performing better than photos, but the $$ stays the same regardless of how many hours you spend on the project. Brands aren’t paying you for your time doing the project, they are paying for your photos and videos that you are posting sharing about them as a company and their product. I don’t let a brand dictate what types of projects I do. In our email negotiations I fit them into the project I already have on my to do list.
How do you protect your kids?
I share my kids in the background of a lot that I do, that’s our life. they are around when I’m doing projects. but when we are out and about I almost always record and post once we have left a location sometimes even the next day. I am cautious about sharing where we live, and never state in advance where we will be.
Do you need a blog to start?
Everyone will give you a different answer to this. If you are DIY focused, I would say yes. I started my blog the same time as my instagram and grew them simultaneously. It is a great resource and supplemental revenue generator to house all of your projects, links, tips and more. Plus it’s something you OWN. Your website your domain name are all yours! If you get hacked or IG phases out you still have your blog. Most OG bloggers refer to it as your “retirement”. Once you create a blog post and have it circulating on google and Pinterest, it is evergreen meaning the content will continue to bring you page views and ad revenue for life! Is it a lot of extra work? YES! Am I a good blogger? No. Lol but I am striving to be better and more consistent.
What are ways you make money?
1- Brand Partnerships
For most influencers, specifically instagram, this is your primary source of income. A brand reaches out to you or you reach out to work with a brand to showcase and share a specific product and create content for that brand in the form of IG stories, In feed post or video, YouTube videos, pinterest pins, before and afters images, blog posts/project plans, ect. Each type of deliverable has it’s own price. Years ago brands would have huge marketing budgets for printed ads, commercials, ect. A lot of my money is now being migrated over to influencers because we live in a day where most dont read magazines/newspapers or watch commercials. Those types of ads don’t convert to sales the same way as influencer marketing does.
Where is that ____ from? Can you link ____? There are 2 different types of affiliate links. Theres general platforms like Like to know it (reward style) or amazon that allows us to link any product from an approved list and we generate a commission if you click the link and purchase. Most of the times the commission is tiny. Like pennies to $1. Another form of affiliate marketing is directly through the brand. This typically offers higher commission from 5-15% of the total sales through using your discount code or link.
Instagram is not a paying platform! Other platforms like blogs and YouTube are known for their side ads and in video ads. Simply watching the video or reading the blog posts generates ad revenue.
4- Selling your own products
This should be everyones end goal and something you should be working on all along the way. Building up a social media following is a lot of work. Being able to create your own product that doesn’t rely on other companies for you to make an income is where it is at. You are serving your audience by creating a product or service that is an answer to a problem they have. I currently do this via DIY Beginner Basics and DIY Kitchen and Bath Basics, my online courses. I also have my project planner which is a physical planner book and then my own app Renovate with Honey Built Home.
** If you are in this JUST FOR THE MONEY, you won’t be successful.
But seriously. The money is a huge perk, but day in and day out I love helping others start projects in their own home and use the tips and tricks I’ve shared to give them enough confidence to dive in to DIY. I love hearing your stories, connecting with you as real people as you help me and I help you. I have found some pretty amazing REAL friends through sharing on social media ands I love love love DIY and doing projects and have for years. It is something I will never stop doing regardless of where instagram goes in the future. If you don’t love what you are sharing on instagram and connecting with others, this is not the gig for you.
Does it really pay enough/what do influencers make?
Money talk is hard. Most people are pretty private about what they make, and usually when you learn how much people make relationships can get weird. If you’ve made it this far into this post then you have some understanding on HOW MUCH WORK, actual WORK goes into this. So yes, this is a great paying job, but just because 2 people are influencers doesn’t mean they make the same amount of money. There are several factors that go into how much you can get paid.
Follower count, # of people watching IG stories, overall social media reach (other platforms like blog, Pinterest, YouTube, Tiktok) and engagement (how many people are liking/commenting on your posts, how many people click your links, how many people BUY things from your links). Youtube you get ad revenue based on the # of views your video gets. Instagram isn’t like that.
I do not get paid by Instagram at all. I don’t get paid based on my # of followers. But those numbers instead dictate a rate I can ask brands to pay me. When I first started there was a formula that most people used as a starting point… for every 10,000 followers you could charge $100 (100,000 followers, $1000), for a feed post or a story set. THAT. IS. NOT. TRUE. I made the mistake of following this guide from 0-110k followers and missed out on a lot of money.
The fact is, everyone charges different rates. Some charge $500 for a feed post (or video or stories), others charge $8000 or $20,000. There. is. no. set. number. You need to know what your time is worth, and don’t be afraid to ask other accounts around your size, and set that as your price. General rule of thumb, if a brand says yes to your rates in the first email, your prices are too low. Raise them.
I will end with this. It takes a special kind of person to persevere through the growth phase of an online account to the point where they can make a consistent income. My first year I made basically zero dollars and was in the red paying for supplies and materials. My second year I made about the same as I did as a full-time nurse. And my third year I made a 6 figure income.
Are there some influencers who are making a mid-range 5 figure yearly income? Yes. Are there others who are making 5 figures each MONTH? YES. It’s going to vary from month to month and person to person. How much energy are you giving to finding brand partnerships?. How good is your engagement? How good are you at genuinely sharing and selling and connecting with your audience? Remember the follower # by their name does not mean they make X amount.
IS IT WORTH IT??
At the end of the day. I love being able to create! I love the challenge of building something from scratch. It’s not everyday that you can say I do what I love everyday, and I built a business from nothing. I get to say both. Is it for everyone? No, but hopefully this gives you a good idea if it is for you.
Phew. Hopefully I got to most of your questions or at least gave you a decent enough insight as to what a DIY influencer really does and the commitment it takes to run a social business.
If you have more questions you’d like me to add to this please DM me on Instagram @honeybuilthome