Today I’m reflecting on my 2020 year and hitting 6-figures as a content creator for the first time.
At the start of 2020, I set an ambitious goal to match my aerospace salary of $90,000 with my blog and Instagram side hustle. In 2019, I was finishing my last two quarters of grad school, working full-time, and I met my financial goal of $40,000. I knew that I could bring in more money and partner with more brands in 2020 since I was finished with grad school and had more free time.
My 2020 year as a content creator started out slow, picked up speed in the summertime, and ended with a bang.
I’m so excited to share with you that I brought in $120,000+ in brand collaborations.
Here is my 2020 recap and my journey hitting 6-figures for the very first time as a content creator:
I started out 2020 slow with brand partnerships. I earned just over $3,000 from January to March. Honestly, I wasn’t in good headspace to even receive brand collaborations. I was dealing with high-blood pressure, a super stressful job with a micro-manager, and I had a major work conference I was helping plan for March. On top of career stresses, I was wedding planning and had co-launched the Content Creatives Podcast.
I’m not surprised that I had a slow start to the New Year. I was burning out every 4-6 weeks since fall of 2019 because of all the different directions I was being pulled. March is also when the pandemic hit Washington State, and everything shut down. I was so grateful I had even one campaign in March.
In 2Q2020, I secured $25,500 in brand collaborations. I was so excited I had a $10,000 brand collaboration come through in June (I recognized this revenue a little later in the year). I couldn’t believe the opportunities that were coming even in the middle of the pandemic. My brand partners were pivoting and wanting to shoot indoors and follow covid-19 guidelines.
I was still working full-time in aerospace but working from home allowed me to break my burnout cycle. I was able to get my running routine back and minimize my time spent working with my manager and team, which released a ton of stress. I cut out my 2-hour commute time and I got my blood pressure back to normal.
Finding my balance, improving both my mental and physical health allowed me to bring in more brand partnerships and opportunities. One of my highlights this quarter was also getting featured on my very first Forbes article. I was interviewed by Rebekah, the co-founder of OwnTrail, for the Trailblazers series.
In 3Q2020, I secured $31,000+ brand collaborations. I couldn’t believe I brought in my first $20,000 brand collaboration at the end of this quarter. I almost died when the brand team agreed after weeks of negotiation.
I actually found out I was getting laid off in July 2020 at the end of the summer. I was not in a good place in July. I was questioning my competency and my worth. I was crying for weeks trying to figure out my next steps in my career. I had worked in aerospace for the last 6 years and balanced content creation (plus graduate school from 2017-2019).
After some heavy reflection, I decided to turn down the opportunities to stay at my former company and take the lay-off so I could pursue content creation full-time. You can read my story on this decision: “Life Update: I’m taking my blog and Instagram Emma’s Edition full-time”
The last week of my aerospace job is when my $20,000 brand collaboration was confirmed. Deep down, I knew choosing me and betting on myself, my skills, my creative talent and business acumen, was the right thing to do. Plus, I had been financially preparing to take Emma’s Edition full-time anyways.
In 4Q2020, I secured $63,000+ in brand partnerships. I had doubled the amount I earned the previous quarter, and it was my busiest holiday season I’ve ever had as a content creator.
After getting laid off from my aerospace job, I was re-invigorated. I had spent 3-4 weeks in the summer in tears. I really took the time to reflect on what I wanted in my next step of my career and I decided that I would become a full-time content creator. I re-outlined my goals, what I wanted in these next 1-2 years, and I went into content creation full-time in September 2020.
I was so excited. I was fully prepared to negotiate the holiday campaigns. I also launched my first course: “How to Negotiate (Paid) Brand Collaborations” with the intention to diversify my income stream and continue to help my community learn how to ask to be paid for brand collaborations.
I was blown away by the response from my community. I couldn’t believe the number of women who were messaging me and telling me that they also thought that I was meant to create content full-time. My confidence and passions grew – and have continued to grow each month.
In December alone, I brought in over $33,000 in brand collaborations. I also met my course financial goal and brought in $10,000+ in revenue at the end of the year. I also launched my second course: “How to Set Goals for Your Brand & Business“.
Here are a few lessons I learned in 2020 and earning 6-figures as a content creator:
1.Sometimes we need a push in life
My original plan was to take my blog/Instagram full-time in summer of 2021. Since my former company paid for my Master’s in Digital Media degree, I had to stay two years or else I would have paid back my degree.
Because I got laid off in 2020, I was waived from needing to pay back anything from my degree. I couldn’t believe it. While I was grateful, I was also a little nervous because this sped up my timeline. But the truth is, I would have left my aerospace career anyways. And I’m glad the lay-off made leaving easier!
2. Believe & bet on yourself
One of the biggest lessons of 2020 was believing and betting that I could make a full-time creative career happen. At first, I was really scared. I wasn’t sure that I could do it. But I had to put my fears aside and trust that my business acumen and creative talent can always bring me forward and new opportunities.
I had to take a step back and hype myself up. I reminded myself that:
- I have my undergrad in Business from the University of Washington.
- I have my Master’s in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington.
- I’ve been consistently creating content for my blog and Instagram since 2016.
- I’ve continued to diversify my brand across Pinterest, TikTok. Facebook, Twitter, and the Content Creatives Podcast.
- In 2019, I set a financial goal of $40,000, and I met it.
- In 2018, I set a financial goal of $10,000, and I met it.
- I know how to earn money as a content creator.
- I know how to build community as a content creator.
- I know how to work with brands as a content creator. I use my project management skills to provide and/or meet brand timelines. I know how to work with brands via email, over the phone, and other ways. I know I help my brand partners meet their marketing and business goals.
- I know how to teach others and provide value.
3. Reflect, clarify, and choose
I spent a ton of time reflecting in 2020. I read mindfulness books, I started journaling every morning, and reflecting during my at-home yoga time or during morning runs. Reflecting allowed me to clarify what I wanted out of my career and my life. Clarity allowed me to choose what I truly wanted.
If you’re feeling rushed to make the next decision, that’s a probably a good indication to actually stop, slow down, and reflect on what you truly want. I learned that getting super clear on how you envision your life will bring the life you want. But you have to take the time to reflect and envision what you actually want in life.
I hope sharing my journey and my first time hitting 6-figures as a content creator was helpful or insightful today.
What other questions do you have around earning your first 6-figures as a content creator?
For more about my journey as a content creator, I also recommend reading/listening to:
Thank you for reading!