I have a 6-figure side hustle as a user-generated-content creator. It only takes a few hours a week — here's how I scaled it.

by Jacob Solomon Mar 17, 2023 News
I have a 6-figure side hustle as a user-generated-content creator. It only takes a few hours a week — here

Kelly Rocklein is a 28-year-old user-generated-content creator in Oregon. She has verified her income. For clarity, the following has been edited.

I am a creative director with a part-time job as a user-generated content creator. User-generated content is part of a creative strategy that works for clients. There are two types of User Generated Content: organic, which is posted to a brand's feed to grow its following, and paid media, which is an ad to create sales. I work in paid media.

I dropped out of college to become a video editor. Over the past nine years, I've worked with more than 500 brands in fashion, skincare, makeup, health, tech, and consumer packaged goods.

My top two UGC ads for one of my clients made them more than $10 million in revenue, and I charge between $500 and $2,000 per concept. While I worked 10 to 15 hours a week and took more than six weeks off throughout the year, my side hustle brought in more than $100,000. I don't have to do cold outreach anymore because I have built my business to the point where I don't need to.

I started doing UGC and video editing for fun in 2014

woman recording herself making content
Rocklein making content.
Miranda Kelton Photography

I referred to it as content creation when I first heard of it. I didn't know what this term meant until I became familiar with the strategy I'd been using. I took a gap year in order to turn my hobby into a career. If it didn't work out, I would go back to school.

Between then and May 2016 I lived and worked at home. If I had a portfolio that was attractive to the brands I wanted to work with, I would get the job. I loved using the products I created examples of.

After securing my first client, I was able to afford to leave. I moved to LA in the summer of 2016 to start my career in marketing.

I started working full time for a digital marketing agency as a senior direct-response video editor after working as a creative contractor. In the summer of 2020, I started at a new agency and in the fall of 2021, I became the creative director for a direct-to- consumer brand.

I make my UGC ads feel natural

I make my concepts feel like they came from a friend. The direct-response formula involves a captivating hook in the first three seconds.

I give a solution to a problem the viewer may have faced and explain how it will work. The value proposition is a selling point that sets the product apart from its competitors. If there are already a million products on the market, what distinguishes this product?

Additional social proof is added by me. I would say that many people can be wrong if the product has more than 100,000 verified five-star ratings.

A call to action is what I always finish with. Something like "Get yours today for only $x!" or "Click the link for a special offer" would work.

I can either use these elements in a script read or use a native trend on TikTok to enhance the likelihood of more conversions. My other services include scriptwriting for $100 a script, which takes 15 minutes, and allowlisting, where I charge $500 a month for my clients to run ads on my Facebook andInstagram.

When I started, there were almost no useful resources

Back then, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack to find a suitable video. It took me a long time to get through Adobe's Premiere Pro. The more time I spent practicing, the better I got.

I researched the current running ads of the brand and what they were doing better than their competitors. I strategically positioned myself as the solution to the problem I uncovered during my brand-market analysis, because contractors are meant to be a solution to an internal problem. It wasn't until 2020 that I started to see the fruits of my labor. I cleared just over $20,000. I made tens of thousands of dollars in the year 2021.

Working full time at digital-marketing agencies helped speed up my learning curve and made me a stronger marketer because I got a lot of exposure to brands in a short period of time. As a full-time creative director for just one brand, I'm able to keep up with my work on the side.

I made an account to help reset expectations after seeing misinformation on TikTok. I started offering one-on-one coaching, writing a newsletter, and portfolio audits in August 2022.

You don't need a college degree to be successful

It's not about where you went to college or if you have a degree, it's about your portfolio and case studies. In marketing, brands want to see case studies featuring return on ad spend, so they will hire the person who shows that.

You have to be aware of the latest social trends in order to create a UGC. It isn't for the weak when you start this. The founder is depressed. It hurts when you're rejected. Not having your ads is a bad thing. That's the way things are. After these gut punches, what you choose to do is what separates the creator who made four or five figures a month from the one who made two or three figures a month.