With slow wage growths throughout the nation and an increasingly-expensive economy, many workers are turning to “side hustles” to earn more money on the side. Whether they use their cash for savings or to splurge, side hustles give those who may not earn as much as they’d like at their nine to five jobs the chance to make ends meet — walking dogs on the weekends, driving for a ride-hailing app or even being paid to post on social media.
According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, 48 percent of millennial workers under the age of 35 say they have a side hustle. Meanwhile, 38 percent of Gen Xers (mid-30s to early 50s) and 28 percent of Baby Boomers (mid-50s to early 70s) say they earn extra income on the side.
Over the next few weeks, the Journal is taking a look at some locals who have learned how to utilize this “gig economy,” whether it be through technological, artistic or business-savvy measures, in a series of stories that will highlight different side hustles and how said hustlers became successful in the field. Our first story features Haley Garcia of Denair, who earns $500 to $2,000 each month thanks to her Instagram account.
There are 20,000 people who follow Garcia’s Instagram account, @halezgarcia, where she posts pictures of her family, self-care methods and anything else users may find empowering or positive, she said. Like other influencers on the ‘gram, Garcia’s mass following has allowed her the opportunity to earn money via her account through sponsorships and advertisements — an industry that is expected to be worth $6.5 billion in 2019.
“The word ‘followers’ is so weird. I like to say friends,” Garcia said. “[Instagram] has definitely become a side income for me, which I did not expect at all. It isn’t something I would ever heavily rely on, but I am grateful to have had the opportunities given to me.”
Garcia recently earned her master’s degree in social work, with an emphasis on mental/behavioral health. Her day job is in the mental health field — a topic she’s incredibly passionate about, and which ultimately jumpstarted her influencer career.
“I am a huge advocate for self-care, and it’s part of the reason I started blogging and Instagramming,” Garcia said. “I wanted to create a space that was safe, fun and honest.”
Garcia originally started a blog called HGselfcare.com, but found she wanted to expand the subject of her posts to include anything she wanted, rather than talking about only mental health. Her blog homeloveandwine.com was then born, where she posts about everything from home improvement projects to healthy recipes. She began to use Instagram as a means to promote her blog, Garcia said, which eventually grew an enormous following itself.
Today, you can find sponsored posts on Garcia’s Instagram account for different products like haircare lines, diapers, monthly subscription boxes and even college loan companies. The process is different each time, she explained, both with companies reaching out to her as well as Garcia applying for different sponsorships on a platform designed specifically for that purpose.
“Every brand is so different. Sometimes they will have you sign a contract and fill out a W-9, but other times it’s just hopping on a call and talking about agreements,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s older sister and husband help her curate the perfect content for a brand each time, she said, which usually takes about an hour to capture the shot. She also edits each photo with her own “presets,” or filters for pictures, which she created herself and also sells for profit on Instagram. She’s careful about what she chooses to post, however, and makes sure to promote only products and brands that she trusts and uses — including her own.
“I am not above anyone else and I do my best to just have fun with it all. I am always ready and willing to be completely honest about this app, and I don’t use it as a way to persuade others into being anything or anyone other than themselves,” Garcia said. “I would never promote a product that I don’t truly use or love, and to be honest I say no to brands more than I say yes because of this.”
While many posts on Garcia’s Instagram account are sponsored posts and advertisements, a lot of the time, she just posts whatever is going on in her life at that moment. You can find snapshots of her son climbing on the rocks at Knights Ferry, photos with family members at weddings and plenty of motivational wisdom included in the captions.
Garcia said that Instagram has definitely enhanced her life, allowing her to create new friendships with other women who have interests similar to her own. Though she says she’s a “very small fish in a huge pond” of influencers, she did provide some tips for those looking to grow their own Instagram following: post often, interact with other users on the site and utilize hashtags.
“I know that technically I am considered to be an ‘influencer,’ but I relate more to just using this space to share the things I love with like-minded individuals and being an open book to whoever wants to join me,” Garcia said.