They say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” although when we often hear this phrase it isn’t associated with our choice of work when the saying can still apply. JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson is no stranger to seeking beauty in a workspace that is unfamiliar to the masses. As a social media influencer, Vaughn-Jefferson has brought in more than $800K in sponsorships this year working with major household brands like WalMart and Macys.
However, initially, when Vaughn-Jefferson quit her corporate job, she struggled to explain her new prospect for work to friends and family. At an age within a workforce that predominantly strives to provide safety and security this leap into the unknown looked unfamiliar to most. And finding her unique niche as an influencer was something that took a trial and error process that no one could engage in for her.
As a wife and mother, this lifestyle influencer shares tips on how she launched her brand and tapped into unlimited new territory in the lifestyle arena.
The Juggle: Leverage The After Hours
During her time on the corporate landscape, Vaughn-Jefferson specialized in the IT field and after work hours spent time developing her side hustle. She often created content including blog posts, did photo shoots, recorded videos, and reached out to contacts for sponsorship. During this season while she tested out new opportunities for work, juggling her existing responsibilities at work and home became key to creating balance and fulfillment in her existing and new endeavors.
Her top tips for juggling while managing multiple work streams and life responsibilities include:
- Planning Ahead: Plan a week ahead for the content you are going to create, from batch shooting to writing. It’s imperative that you are able to visualize the week ahead. A pro-tip would be to allow wiggle room to pivot. Being that we don’t own the different media platforms or know what cards life may hand us, flexibility is gold.
- Outsourcing: Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is important as you navigate efficiently and reclaim your time. This allows you the ability to focus on the things you are already great at and affords you the time to take on other projects.
- Setting Work Boundaries: Set hard work boundaries and allot the respective time for projects to be done, so that you can spend time with family, friends and yourself. Balancing it all has kept her in the perfect head space so that when it’s time to create—while enjoying her job—burnout isn’t a factor.
The Leap: Scale Your Following Around Your “What? and Why?”
After accumulating 70,000 followers, in 2018, Vaughn-Jefferson quit her full time job. Since quitting, she has gained nearly 300,000 followers. The lifestyle influencer describes the large growth of her audience stemming from around clock documentation of her life in a strategic way that honed in on two key things: her what and why. Her what is lifestyle blogging and why is to provide value to her audience through her lived experience.
Vaughn-Jefferson recalls being inspired to create content initially because she comes from a family of preachers and pastors, “inspiring and encouraging was somewhat innate,” she shares. She knew that she didn’t want to go about inspiration the same way, however, she felt most comfortable to do so by sharing on various platforms as an influencer. And since starting, the various messages she receives from followers who have expressed that her sharing her journey has “inspired them to tap into their God given gifts,” keeps her going.
The Climb: Make Noise & Manage The Ad Stigma
Although her following has soared, Vaugh-Jefferson has found that she has been able to monopolize her content through envisioning it as a brand. The lifestyle influencer describes that her success in the field has occurred given her creation of a marketable package associated to this brand.
Vaughn-Jefferson recommends creating a marketable package based on the following tenets:
- Providing Value: Providing value to your audience is key, by not only listening to their requests but also engaging with them.
- Offering Great Quality: Quality matters. Ensure that the quality of your content is comparable to the brands you want to work with.
- Honing in on Your Individualized Story: The only thing that makes you different from the next person is your individual story. Make sure that you are always being real with your audience because that’s what’s going to enable them to connect with you. “Let’s also just remember that in the end [audience] conversion matters and brands care about your ability to sell their product—this is marketing after all,” she shares.
In addition, Vaughn-Jefferson has found that there is a stigma around the role of the influencer. However, she highlights that the beauty of the free content sharing landscape, that social media offers millions of its users, is that social media is fueled by ads organizations and media influencers post. Given the lucrative role ads play on social media platforms and that they are a key revenue stream for influencers who make a living developing content, it is important to carve a space for sharing ads.
Vaughn-Jefferson believes there is a strategic way to balance producing organic content while developing sponsored ads. The lifestyle influencer has found it important to do so by ensuring that the sponsored content she takes on aligns with her lifestyle and organic content she would share regardless. “We frequently say no to sponsorships that don’t align with the brand or we know will not resonate well with the audience” to ensure alignment, Vaughn-Jefferson shares.
The Fuel: Creating A Team & Leveraging Wisdom For Growth
Oftentimes people perceive an influencer’s job as simply curating content, however, Vaughn-Jefferson notes that it is a team effort that takes time and dedication. Each day is also riddled with administrative coordination and planning. Vaughn-Jefferson recommends that a core team to fuel content creation and planning can include: a Manager/Agency, Project Manager/Assistant, Photographer/Videographer, and Copywriter/Editor. This team enables an influencer to work intentionally on their craft.
The industry is filled with endless opportunities for growth. It will be exciting to see what Vaughn-Jefferson does next. And for influencers and those aspiring to be influencers, she shares the following wisdom to strive for growth in the field: “Just start, you never know what will come from it and remember your authenticity is what will always take you to the next level allowing you to build a genuine community. While it may seem oversaturated, your story is the difference and there are people waiting on you to share!”