In your own words, can you explain who you are and what you do?
I am a fashion, beauty and lifestyle, digital content creator. I was blogging as a hobby for two years before it became my only source of income in July 2019. Since then, I have obtained a master’s in Public Relations and completed a student entrepreneurial programme called Student Inc. Both Student Inc. and my masters have helped turn my hobby into a reality and I am now fully self-employed and doing what I love!
Why did you start blogging?
I have always loved watching YouTubers. Zoella is one of my favourite Content Creators, I used to watch her videos wishing I could do what she does. At that time, I never thought that it could be a potential career path, I figured people just did that stuff for fun. It wasn’t until my third year of college, when I began my dream job at MAC, that I realised I could make a living out of blogging.
Working at MAC allowed me to experiment with different make-up looks, I would then upload these looks to my Instagram profile. I also began to talk on my Instagram stories which did feel a bit strange at the start, but as my channel grew, I started to feel more comfortable talking on my Instagram story.
Can you explain how your business works?
There are a few different revenue streams you can pursue such as…….
- Affiliate Links: This is where you promote a product you really like and receive payment for people that click on the link you provide and buy the product you are promoting. You don’t earn a lot from this revenue stream unless you have lots of followers, but it is a good place to start.
- YouTube: With YouTube you get paid for the views you receive on a video, so you don’t need a sponsor or brand deal to make a bit of extra cash on YouTube.
- Brand Deals and Sponsorships: This is my main source of income; these can be either long-term or short-term deals. For example, Smooch is my longest contract, I have made my own merch with smooch, helped organise events, and created various online content promoting smooch.
- Other Revenue Streams: I also host events for brands and create master courses such as my make-up course that I created last month.
What are some of the challenges you face as a full-time blogger and how do you overcome them?
Probably the unstable income. I remember when I decided to leave MAC and pursue this full-time, I only had one job lined up worth 400 euro and that was supposed to last me for the next four months. It is still daunting, sometimes when I look at my calendar and find I have nothing lined up for next month but you just have to go easy on yourself and know that it always works out in the end.
What did you learn in your masters and the Student Inc programme that changed the way you run your business now compared to before?
In my masters I learned about the importance of reputation and being proud of anything you put your name on. Whenever I promote a brand, I would always look at the brands messaging, particularly the company’s sustainability policies and ethics, I would then decide whether I want my name to be associated with the brand.
On completion of the Student Inc. programme, I realised that I am a business and to not let other people undermine that. I get a lot of people saying, “You just take pictures and stuff, that’s not a real job” and going through the programme helped me realise all the business elements that are in my job.
Who usually contacts who when working with a brand?
Up until recently I used to be the one who reached out and I was happy enough to do so as I would only contact brands I love and wanted to promote. Recently most of the brands that I’ve worked with as of late, have contacted me first. Big Brands such as McDonalds, Amazon Prime, Real Techniques etc. have all reached out first, it is crazy to think that these well-known brands want to work with me.
How does payment work?
If a brand reaches out, they usually state what they are looking for and ask for my rates. If it is a small company, I would ask what their budget is so I can charge something that is within their means. Usually though, I charge a flat fee for a feed post and Instagram story. I provide a further discount to brands that want to work with me long-term. After that you send them an invoice and you are usually paid within 2 weeks to a month. It is very important for anyone starting off that you don’t over charge because if a company doesn’t make a return with you the first time, they are unlikely to work with you again, but also don’t undercharge. If a company wants to work with you long-term but they are unsure, you can offer a trial run and charge a deducted fee for a few weeks and then work something out once that has ended.
With International Women’s Day fast approaching, what women inspire you and why?
I just love Zoella, I really admire how she has expanded the Zoella platform into a multimillion-dollar business and now has her own team, make-up line and she is an author. I just really look up to anyone that has turned their content into a business. I love that the Influencer world is primarily female, and you see all these successful women making a name for themselves, but some people still don’t view it as a business. I remember reading this quote before that stated “If the influencer industry was male dominant, it would have been seen as a business from day one, but because it is mostly women its just taking pictures” and I think this statement rings true.
What is the ultimate goal for your business?
I would love to work with more UK and US brands and expand globally as much as possible. I worked with my first US brand last week which was a major achievement for me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs who have recently finished college or are still studying?
Know your worth, don’t overcharge and realise how valuable whatever you are offering is. You will have to work really hard, especially if you are a girl, unfortunately there is still a lot of inequality within the workforce regarding pay and other factors, but when you are an entrepreneur you are able to set your own rates, don’t underestimate your worth.
Shauna Doyle is a Digital creator who has a masters in Public Relations with New Media and has a large social media following.